Although it is illegal in every state, many people continue to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. The use of any controlled substances can greatly affect their reflexes and reaction time, which may cause an accident. Car crashes can result in severe injuries or even fatalities. That is why the laws in Illinois are strict when it comes to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A DUI stop can lead to arrest and steep fines, as well as jail time. However, if someone takes prescription medication and operates a vehicle, could that also result in a DUI charge? It is important to know what the law states on this type of legal drug use in Illinois so you can plan a strong criminal defense if you are faced with such charges.
What Does “Driving Under the Influence” Mean?
The use of legal drugs, including prescription drugs, medical marijuana, and over-the-counter medications, can potentially lead to a DUI arrest and conviction just like a DUI related to alcohol. “Under the influence” is the term used when a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely was impacted to a significant degree by an alcoholic drink, a drug, or the two combined. That being said, someone can be considered under the influence of legal prescription drugs when driving. A lot of over-the-counter and prescription medicines can negatively impact motor skills, coordination, and alertness, even when the correct dosage is taken. A few of the typical side effects that can impact a person’s ability to drive include:
- Blurry vision;
- Delayed movement;
- Fainting; and
- Inability to focus
Various drugs can affect motorists in different ways depending on an individual’s height, weight, age, etc. Those drugs that impair judgment, reaction time, or motor skills are considered just as risky as alcoholic beverages. These side effects can lead to unsafe driving, often resulting in a car crash with injuries or fatalities.
Illinois DUI Penalties
In general, the penalties for a DUI for prescription drugs are the same as a DUI for illegal drugs or alcohol. Punishments can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, with steep fines and imprisonment. However, each situation is unique, and the sentence handed down depends on other factors, including previous criminal history, age of the driver, and the severity of a resulting accident.
- First Offense: Class A misdemeanor results in up to one year in jail, a fine up to $2,500, and a driver’s license revocation for as long as one year.
- Second Offense: Class A misdemeanor results in up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and a driver’s license revocation for a minimum of five years.
- Third Offense: Class 2 felony results in up to three years in prison, a fine up to $25,000, and a driver’s license revocation for a minimum of 10 years.
The penalties for a DUI offense for prescription drugs can be elevated if someone is caught driving under the influence while doing any of the following:
- Carrying a passenger who is under 16 years of age;
- Injuring another person while driving under the influence; or
- Knowingly driving a vehicle that does not carry liability insurance.
Contact an Itasca Criminal Defense Attorney
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and carries significant penalties in Illinois. A DUI offense can occur with prescription drugs and could potentially lead to loss of driving privileges, hefty fines, and confinement. If you or someone you know is facing a DUI charge, you need skilled legal representation. An experienced DuPage County DUI lawyer at the law firm of Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C., will carefully review your case to achieve the best possible outcome. Call our office Spanish-speaking office today at 630- 875-1700 to schedule a consultation.