Yes, you can be arrested for driving under the influence if you test positive for prescription medicines like hydrocodone or Valium - even if your doctor prescribed them.
Public safety is the reason for this. The state of Tennessee wants people behind the wheel to drive competently. So it includes prescription drugs in its DUI law, along with alcohol and illegal substances like marijuana and amphetamines.
Studies have shown that more than 10 million drivers on the road use drugs while driving. It is such a common practice that many people don't think twice about it. But "My doctor prescribed it" is not an excuse judges will listen to.
Drugs that can get you in trouble include:
Painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Morphine, Codeine, Lortab, Lorcet, Celebrex, Ultram and Fentanyl
Anti-ADHD drugs, including Ritalin, Dexedrine and Adderall
Anti-anxiety medications, including Ativan, Valium, Librium, Xanax, and Klonopin
Anti-insomnia medications, including Lunesta, Ambien, Edluar and ZolpiMist
Anti-addiction drugs like Suboxone and Methadone
Many of these are very common medicines, which you might take on such a regular basis that you don't think twice about driving.
You know how serious a DUI conviction can be. The average costs for a conviction in Tennessee can run to about $5,000, including fines, towing costs, bail, legal fees, court costs, DUI school and reinstatement fees.
In addition to dollar costs, a conviction will cause harm to your school plans, your career plans and to your relationships.
Our advice to you is to keep the name and number of an experienced DUI lawyer in your smartphone or glove compartment at all times. The time to call a lawyer is the moment you see the spinning lights on the patrol car behind you.
Do not talk to police until you have placed a call to a good attorney. There are useful defenses against driving while on prescription drugs. An experienced lawyer will know the case law involving other people pulled over. Do not talk to police until you have placed a call to a good attorney.