Ask an Attorney: Can I get a DWI based on a prescription drug showing up in my system?

Most likely, yes. If all other factors justify you being stopped, the fact that the chemicals in your system are from a prescribed medication will not make the DWI automatically dismissed. The fact that they are a prescribed medication may serve as a mitigating factor when sentencing severity is being considered.


The prevailing view held by courts in North Carolina may be summed up in the opinion for State v Highsmith, 173 N.C. App. 600 (2005), stating in part that “[d]efendant knew or should have known that a prescription medication … could impair him.”


While this is never an excuse to stop taking prescribed medications, it does reinforce the warning often printed on pharmacy packaging that a person should be careful when taking prescription medication- especially before driving.

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