Ellijay Police explain DUIs regarding prescription meds, OTC drugs
(Ed. note: Ellijay Police Chief Edward Lacey recently explained driving under the influence law in regard to taking prescription medicine and/or over-the-counter drugs on its Facebook page under a “Traffic Law Tuesday” post. Following are some of the excerpts, shared in the hope motorists will be aware of the risks, especially as the holiday season is here and parties and festivities are frequent.)
“You can get a DUI for using prescribed medication, even over-the-counter drugs,” Chief Lacey writes in the post. “We hear this all the time — someone will be operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, and they will inevitably say, ‘But those are prescribed to me by my doctor.’
“Under state law, operating a motor vehicle while impaired is against the law, regardless of the substance that is causing the impairment.”
A section of Georgia’s legal code prohibits a person from driving — or being in physical control of — a vehicle while under the influence of any substance to the extent it would make someone less safe to drive.
“This includes alcohol, glue, aerosol or other toxic vapors to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive; a combination of two or more of those substances, or any amount of marijuana or any controlled substance ... The fact that any person charged with violating this code section is or has been legally entitled to use a drug shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this code section,” the code states in part.
“Believe it or not, people will use nonprescription cough syrup as an intoxicating substance,” Lacey said. “And some folks just don’t read the warning labels and think that because a doctor has given them a license to take a drug, that they also have a license to drive while taking the drug. This is simply not the case.”
He advises, “Please heed the warnings on your prescription medication. If it says, ‘Do not mix with alcohol’ or ‘Do not operate heavy machinery’ then those warnings exist for a purpose. Drugs, legal or not, by themselves or combined with alcohol, tend to impair your judgement and reaction times.
“Those warnings exist to highlight the fact that you may be less safe to operate heavy machinery, including a motor vehicle, while taking those medications. As always, be safe.”