You get a cough and start using over-the-counter medication so that you can continue going to work. You don’t think it’s a big deal. Then you get pulled over by an officer who says that you are clearly impaired, and you find yourself facing charges. 

You counter these charges in two ways. First, you note that the cough medicine was legally bought and used. Second, you point out that you were not driving while drunk, so you can’t get a DUI. Are you right, or can you get one for cough medicine? 

Any substance that leaves you impaired can lead to a DUI

You may still be able to get a DUI. After all, a DUI is for impaired driving, not just drunk driving. Someone who smokes marijuana can also get a DUI without consuming any alcohol. If you took so much cough medicine that you can’t drive safely — maybe it has a sleep aid and you’re about to fall asleep — that’s still impairment. You can face charges.

The argument about legal use is only helpful in avoiding further charges, but will not save you from DUI charges. Many people who get arrested for drunk driving were also drinking legally, as they were over 21 years old. It’s not about the legality of the substance itself, but about taking that substance and then getting behind the wheel of a car. That’s where it becomes illegal. 

Your options when you’re pulled over for impaired driving

Whatever the situation, it’s always wisest to remember that you have the right to remain silent when you’re charged with a DUI. Trying to explain or justify your situation is only likely to hand the police information they can use against you. Tell a defense attorney, instead, what happened. You need to know what defense options you have to protect your future.