When people think about someone driving under the influence, they often think it means the person was driving drunk. However, a DUI is possible when you are under the influence of any substance. This includes any type of drug, even those that are legal. It does not just mean prescription drugs either. There are plenty of over-the-counter drugs that could land you in trouble for driving under the influence.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drugs can alter your ability to drive and lead to you being a danger when behind the wheel. While not every medication you take will cause impairment, some can make you drowsy or reduce your coordination. There is even an issue with drugs that have side effects that could affect your alertness or physical abilities, such as those that cause shakiness, dizziness or irregular heartbeat.
Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, have warning labels to alert you to whether they will affect your ability to drive. You may see the stickers on your prescription bottle that warn not to operate heavy machinery. This means you should not drive when using the drug. Warnings may also state potential side effects. If you buy the medication over-the-counter, it should come with information in the package or on the bottle explaining the risks of taking it.
If an officer pulls you over for a DUI, you can face the exact same penalties as if you were drunk. The law does not distinguish between drugs and alcohol in this manner as it all falls within the category of driving under the influence. You used a substance that reduced your ability to drive safely, which is in direct violation of the law.