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Prescription Drugs and DUI in Nevada

Driving under the influence of drugs is usually presumed to be illegal controlled substances such as marijuana or cocaine; however, it can also apply to prescription and over-the-counter medications. Prescription medications such as sleeping pills, or even cold and allergy medications can affect one’s driving ability. Usually an individual who is prescribed a sedative will be told not to drive or operate heavy machinery after taking the medication. NRS 484C.110, states that “the fact that any person charged with a violation of this subsection is or has been entitled to use that drug under the laws of this state is not a defense against any charge of violating this subsection.” Thus, just because a driver was impaired using a legal drug, he can still be prosecuted with a DUI.

Unlike alcohol or other illegal drugs, there is no minimum or maximum threshold of prescription drug use one must consume in order to be convicted of a DUI. This means that you can be convicted of a DUI for having even the slightest amount of prescription drugs in your system. Most individuals are arrested for a prescription DUI because he/she admits to the police officer that prescription drugs have been taken. A police officer might also notice medication bottles inside the vehicle and use that as evidence as well. Again, given Nevada’s implied consent law, a motorist must submit to a chemical test to determine whether they are under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance and a police officer may use reasonable force to obtain this evidence.

According to NRS 484C.400, a first time offense for DUI for prescription drugs is often a misdemeanor and may include penalties such as: fines from $400-$1000, two to six months in jail, license suspension for ninety days, ninety-six hours of community service, and DUI program or treatment.  Repeat offenders face enhanced penalties.


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