Can I Get A DUI For Taking Benadryl?

Can I Get A DUI For Taking Benadryl?

New York law does not make a distinction between legal drugs and illegal drugs in DUI charges. The charge is “driving under the influence.” The legality of what is influencing you does not make a difference.

This is covered under New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1192.4:

“No person shall operate a motor vehicle while the person’s ability to operate such a motor vehicle is impaired by the use of a drug.” This means any drug if that drug impairs you in any way.

Nothing stops you from taking your prescriptions, of course. You just have to determine whether they render you capable of getting behind the wheel unimpaired. You should also pay close attention to the way substances interact. While under normal circumstances, you might be able to have one beer with dinner without going over the legal blood alcohol limit, the same drink could become deadly when combined with a vast array of prescription drugs.

Making the determination of risk isn’t easy under these circumstances. Assuming it’s not feasible for you to play it safe and avoid driving at all while on prescription or over-the-counter drugs, you’ll need some reasonable way to determine whether it’s safe to get behind the wheel.

First, you should be especially leery of drugs that can sedate you. Benadryl is, of course, one of these drugs for many people. Many prescription drugs fall into this category as well. 

Some stimulants can be equally dangerous.

It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your normal habits and your driving to get their opinion on whether there will be unusual interactions between this prescription and alcohol. You should also be clear on the common side effects of any drug you take, including drowsiness.

What if you make a mistake?

If you get pulled over and you believe the officer has done so because he or she has witnessed erratic or impaired behavior, resist the urge to defend yourself. If you say, “I swear I didn’t take anything but a legal prescription,” you won’t be proving your innocence or convincing a cop not to arrest you.

You’ll be strengthening the prosecution’s case instead.

You should also avoid giving the cops permission to search your car. You may think you have “nothing to hide,” but your prescription bottle, or Benadryl in your dashboard, things which look innocuous to you, could again give the prosecutor a lot more evidence to convict you with. If the cops want to search your car, make them get a warrant.

Make the determination of whether you’re going to submit to any testing. You can lose your license for refusing the test, but allowing it to move forward could be even worse. Keep in mind the cops can still get a warrant which orders you to submit to the testing.

Then, understand what happens next isn’t in your hands. The cops will choose to let you go or arrest you. The best thing you can do is to invoke your 5th Amendment rights and ask for an attorney. After that, avoid speaking.

Facing DUI charges? You’ll need help. Contact the Law Offices of Julie Rendelman today.

See also:

Your Rights in New York DUI Cases


Distracted Driving


Different Types of Warrants in New York