Many people falsely believe that as long as they took a medication as prescribed by their doctor, it is legal to operate a car after taking it. However, there are many prescribed medications that can negatively impact your ability to operate a vehicle. From painkillers and muscle relaxants to benzodiazepines like Xanax, there are many prescription medications that can earn you a driving under the influence charge in the state of Florida. Xanax, also called alprazolam, is an anti-anxiety medication that is increasingly causing DUI charges for residents of Florida.
How do you know if it's legal for you to drive after taking Xanax/alprazolam?
There is no legal limit for Xanax, although having any in your system without a prescription is a crime in and of itself. Studies have shown that doses as low as 1 mg can cause severe impairment in drivers. Some people take lower doses, and some patients develop a tolerance to the drug over time. Others may be more sensitive. Currently, this is a gray area in Florida law. If the law enforcement officers have reason to believe that medication has impaired your ability to drive, they can charge you with a DUI.
You can be charged regardless of whether you are acclimated to the prescription and taking it according to doctor's orders. The only real means of determining the legality of driving after taking Xanax is to determine conclusively if it impacts your ability to safely drive. Studies have shown that hours after ingesting Xanax, it markedly impacts your ability to maintain a safe speed and ensure proper placement of your vehicle on the road. If you feel drowsy, "stoned" or otherwise strongly impacted by Xanax after taking it, it's best to err on the side of caution and not drive.
What should I do if I'm facing Xanax-related DUI charges?
For many people, the realization that a prescribed medication is impairing their driving only comes after a roadside stop by law enforcement. If you are facing a DUI charge after driving on prescription medication, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Avoid giving any statements to law enforcement that could be considered a confession. Once you provide your attorney with the details of the stop and the moments leading up to it, he or she can advise about potential defenses.
From challenging evidence about the stop itself to requesting that you attend driving or substance abuse classes in lieu of criminal charges, an attorney can help provide you with options. If you're facing a DUI charge because of prescription medication, don't gamble your freedom, your financial future and your mobility on the court's understanding. Retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.