Can I Get Charged with an OWI for Driving While Taking Prescription Medication?

Driving while intoxicated puts the safety and lives of others at risk. Because of this, Michigan takes a strong stance against individuals who drive while their ability is impaired. State laws prohibit not only driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol but also under the influence of prescription and non-prescription medications. Under Section 257.625 of Michigan Vehicle Code, impaired driving applies to individuals who are “under the influence of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance…”

Medications Could Affect Driving Ability

Prescription medications and non-prescription medications contain ingredients that can affect your body and impede your ability to drive safely. Many medications have warnings against operating machinery after taking them. Adhering to instructions on warning labels could help you stay safe and make informed decisions before getting behind the wheel.

Being Pulled Over for Impaired Driving

An officer can pull you over if it appears your driving ability is impaired.

Signs of impaired driving that an officer might look for include:

  • Lane weaving
  • Abrupt or delayed stops
  • Speeding
  • Disobeying traffic signals or signs

While these driving behaviors don’t necessarily mean you are driving under the influence, an officer can stop you and might ask you to submit to a preliminary breath test to determine if there is alcohol in your system. If you refuse this test, you could be charged and face a $150 fine.

Submitting to a Chemical Test

Under Michigan’s implied consent law, when you drive a vehicle, you give implicit permission to submit to a chemical test to determine if there is an intoxicating substance in your system. If you are pulled over and arrested for impaired driving, you are required to take this test. Refusal to do so could result in driver’s license suspension.

If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is at 0.08 or higher, you can be charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI). If your BAC was below the legal limit, you could be charged with operating while visibly impaired (OWVI), which is when an officer could tell, by observing your driving, that you weren’t able to safely operate your vehicle.

Potential Penalties for an OWI or OWVI Conviction

If convicted of an OWI, you could be subject to the following penalties for your first offense:

  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Up to 30 days’ driver’s license suspension
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device
  • 6 points added to your driving record

If convicted of an OWVI, you could face the following penalties:

  • Up to $300 in fines
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • 90 days’ driver’s license suspension
  • 4 points added to your driving record

Retain the Services of Our Skilled Attorneys at White Law PLLC

If you were charged with OWI or OWVI, contact our lawyers at White Law PLLC. Backed by over 60 years of combined legal experience, we have extensive knowledge of impaired driving laws. We will build a strong defense to fight the charges brought against you.

Call us at (517) 316-1195 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.