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Prescription Drugs and DUI in South Carolina

In South Carolina, a person can be arrested for a DUI for operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs. Drugs are meant to include any drug or substance that will cause impairment to the extent that the person’s faculties to drive a motor vehicle are materially and appreciably impaired. Prescription drugs are defined as any drug that is required by federal or state statues, regulations or rules to be dispensed only upon prescription. A prescription drug is a licensed medicine that needs a prescription before it can be obtained.

A person can be arrested for driving under the influence of any prescription drug that impairs their ability to drive. In South Carolina some police officers have obtained Drug Recognition Expert certification. Drug Recognition Experts learn to measure a person’s blood pressure, pulse, respiration rate and pupil size. With those vital signs, the officer will then match your vitals to a matrix chart and form an opinion about whether or not the driver is under the influence of drugs. A person does not have to let an officer take their vitals. Refusals to answer questions and to take vitals are not penalized.

If a person tests positive for a prescribed drug, the person may be charged with an operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs. However, it may be hard to prove that the prescription drug actually impaired the driving. If a person is charged with a DUI for a prescription drug, the person should determine if there were any other cause that could have impaired their driving other than their medication.

A prescription drug can have similar effects as an intoxicated driver. Prescription drugs can affect your brain and impair your reaction time, motor skills and judgment. Prescription drugs can also alter your coordination, attention, balance, cognition and other faculties that are needed to drive safely. Since some prescription drugs can impair driving, a person who knows they will be driving in the near future should look for labels on the drugs about driving or operating heavy equipment after taking the medication.


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