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How prescription drugs affect OWI cases in Wisconsin

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2024 | OWI |

In Wisconsin, operating while intoxicated (OWI) charges aren’t limited to alcohol use. Prescription medications can also land you in a challenging legal situation if they impair your ability to drive safely. 

Understanding how these charges work and the implications of driving under the influence of legal drugs is crucial for anyone who takes prescription medication and drives.

What counts as impairment?

It’s important to know that in Wisconsin, impairment can be from any substance, not just alcohol. This includes legally prescribed medications. If a drug affects your reflexes, judgment, or motor skills, it could be impairing. Common examples include:

  • Painkillers
  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Sleep aids

The law doesn’t differentiate between substances when assessing your ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Legal considerations for prescription drugs in OWI cases

If you get charged with an OWI due to prescription medication use, the legal process can be complex. Unlike alcohol-related OWI cases, where a breathalyzer can confirm blood alcohol content, determining impairment from prescription drugs isn’t as straightforward. It often involves blood tests and expert testimony regarding how the medication affects your driving. Remember, having a prescription is not a defense in itself. 

Your role and responsibilities

It’s your responsibility to know how your medication affects you and to make smart choices about driving. If you find yourself facing an OWI charge, remember, the focus will be on whether you were capable of driving safely. 

This is where the effects of your prescribed medication come into play. Being proactive about your health and how you manage it can prevent situations where your ability to drive safely could be questioned.

Before you turn the key

Driving after taking prescription medications requires careful consideration of both your health and the law. If your medication affects your driving ability, it’s crucial to explore other transportation options. 



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