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Can I drive with prescription painkillers?

Some individuals believe they receive less punishment if a cop stops them for driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Since they are taking something that the doctor recommends, they think the rules towards driving under the influence should not apply as heavily to them.

In New York, that is not the case. The law states that you cannot drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, regardless if they are prescription or not. Many prescription drugs can impair your ability to drive. They can make you drowsy and cause you to lose focus and reaction time. Cops will be on high alert for any signs of suspicious driving in a congested state like New York.

If caught, you will receive charges for driving while ability impaired (DWAI), a fine for a first-offense up to $1000 and have your license suspended for six months. If you get caught more times after that, the fine, maximum jail term and length on your license suspension increases further.

To avoid this, ask your doctor if they recommend that it is ok to drive after taking the prescription. Check the bottle of painkillers to see if it has any ingredients such as Fentanyl or Oxynorm and any warnings about side effects. Some even warn you not to operate any machinery after ingestion. The court can use the bottle against you if it lists the side effects, so it is better to know before they do.

Legal consequences will go on your record, and any impaired driver runs the risk of harming others on the road. If your prescription has a warning, play it safe and find an alternate mode of transportation after ingestion. You can call for a cab, see if a bus is around, or get a designated driver. It is better to make a back-up plan as soon as you can to avoid any risks on the road.

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Lerner & Lerner, P.C.

Former prosecutors with more than 50 years of combined experience

Lerner & Lerner, P.C.
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Suite 125
Carle Place, NY 11514

Toll Free: 800-747-4996
Phone: 516-741-4100
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