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Old 06-12-2011, 11:08 PM   #1
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Question Pain meds and driving

Hello everyone, I hope this message finds you pain-free. I'm wondering if a person can legally drive if they are on pain medication. Take me as an example. I'm currently taking 800mg Gabapentin 3x/day, 30mg Morphine Sulfate 3x/day, and 30mg Oxycodone IR 4x/day for BT (I have RSD, PTS, and other fun-to-spell problems.) Now if I'm always on these medications, or "under the influence," am I guilty of DUI every time I get behind the wheel? Bear in mind that my tolerance to these meds is pretty high, so they don't make me feel as though I'm intoxicated, but they do tend to make me sleepy (NOTE:I never get behind the wheel if I "feel" my meds, but sometimes they start to affect me a little while I'm driving)...I guess what I'm trying to say is am I guilty simply because they're in my bloodstream, regardless of effect? If I were to get into a car accident and someone was injured, regardless of fault, am I looking at a DUI?
I realize the DUI laws are different state-to-state (and I'm in SC,) but does anyone have any knowledge on this subject?

 
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Old 06-13-2011, 05:53 AM   #2
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Re: Pain meds and driving

I'm not positive on this subject also and is something I wonder about too.
while I have seen court reports of people arrested for DUI for opiats or benzos but from the sounds of it they were extremly messed up addicts and not people in PM.
Even if the police say something about your pupils I wouldn't admit to anything how ever and as long as you can pass the field sobriety tests they won't have any thing to go on. same sutuation in an accident (atleast in my state) the hospital could administer a toxicology but it would violate the hipo laws to share that with the police.

 
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Old 06-13-2011, 07:43 AM   #3
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Re: Pain meds and driving

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Originally Posted by sikofit View Post
Even if the police say something about your pupils I wouldn't admit to anything how ever and as long as you can pass the field sobriety tests they won't have any thing to go on.

Yeah, I'm not passing a field sobriety exam that involves walking or standing on one leg (I have to use a cane about half the time now.) My legs are in pretty bad shape from the RSD.

Anybody else know more?

 
Old 06-13-2011, 10:25 AM   #4
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Re: Pain meds and driving

I have wondered this often myself. I take norco and, like you, I dont really feel it anymore, but I'm very careful about not driving if I'm feeling the slightest bit dopey. My guess is that yes, it would be considered a DUI. I mean, I dont see how it couldnt?

 
Old 06-13-2011, 11:06 AM   #5
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Re: Pain meds and driving

This has always been a touchy subject with CP'ers who happen to be opiate tolerant. From everything I've read and heard, I too could be charged if my meds came in question at the scene of an acccident, regardless of whether I caused it or not. Fair or not, I'm pretty sure that's the reality. Now, most of us know that if it ever came down to a sobriety field test, we'd pass no problem (canes aside). The problem may be that my pupils show that I take a large dose of narcotics daily, I can't hide that fact. Personally, even though I've taken over 300mg Oxy for many years, I never have felt impaired to drive. I actually drive almost 50 miles to and from work most days with no trouble whatsoever. Come to think of it, I've gotten a couple tickets while on the meds and the officer never said a word. The fact is, no one who looks or deals with me can ever tell I take anything! I guess I need to pray it never comes up in a bad situation. It would be a fluke however.

In closing I'll say this, if it ever came up one would probably need a good attorney and possibly "prove" to the courts that you are not affected by the meds. It would most likely cost a bunch of time and money. Hopefully, it never comes up.
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Old 06-13-2011, 12:52 PM   #6
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Re: Pain meds and driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by tatertim View Post
Hello everyone, I hope this message finds you pain-free. I'm wondering if a person can legally drive if they are on pain medication. Take me as an example. I'm currently taking 800mg Gabapentin 3x/day, 30mg Morphine Sulfate 3x/day, and 30mg Oxycodone IR 4x/day for BT (I have RSD, PTS, and other fun-to-spell problems.) Now if I'm always on these medications, or "under the influence," am I guilty of DUI every time I get behind the wheel? Bear in mind that my tolerance to these meds is pretty high, so they don't make me feel as though I'm intoxicated, but they do tend to make me sleepy (NOTE:I never get behind the wheel if I "feel" my meds, but sometimes they start to affect me a little while I'm driving)...I guess what I'm trying to say is am I guilty simply because they're in my bloodstream, regardless of effect? If I were to get into a car accident and someone was injured, regardless of fault, am I looking at a DUI?
I realize the DUI laws are different state-to-state (and I'm in SC,) but does anyone have any knowledge on this subject?
Hi Tater,
Yes, you can be arrested and charged with DUI or Impaired driving in most of the states in the US. If you are not sure, anyone can go to their state's motor vehicle website and check their individual state laws regarding driving while impaired. If you got into an accident, you might be considered "at fault", if the police were to realize that you are taking opiate pain medications. In fact, any medication that impairs our ability to drive, impacts our reflexes may also be included in the "impairment" part of the DWI/DUI laws of your state. If someone were to be injured, you can be sued and also charged .
It is up to each individual to decide if their medications impair their ability to drive or their reflexes but if you do choose to drive, you should be aware that there may be legal ramifications.
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Old 06-13-2011, 01:38 PM   #7
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Re: Pain meds and driving

From everything I have read and learned...I agree with others that it's our personal choice to drive or not depending on how long we have been on the medicine and our ability...but yes...if there is an accident, we can be charged with a DUI or DWI...and sued..

 
Old 06-13-2011, 01:49 PM   #8
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Re: Pain meds and driving

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Originally Posted by Ilovemycutedog View Post
From everything I have read and learned...I agree with others that it's our personal choice to drive or not depending on how long we have been on the medicine and our ability...but yes...if there is an accident, we can be charged with a DUI or DWI...and sued..
I think you pretty much "get it". One of my biggest fear is to have someone hit me (absolutely NO fault of mine!) and in some manner or another it comes out that I take opiates. Then the nightmare begins! Even though I would be the victim in the situation I'm describing, somehow the tables could be turned and who knows what would happen. Like I said earlier, there is no way anyone could tell/know I'm taking anything whatsoever. I show nothing! In that case, it blows my mind that the laws don't take into account the fact that I've been on this med for 10 years, that I hold down a respectible job and help to raise a family etc. All I can say is that I really hope it never happens to any of us because I truly believe it will be a nightmare!
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Old 06-13-2011, 02:02 PM   #9
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Re: Pain meds and driving

Yes...I fear the same thing...I try to limit my driving as much as possible...but it is nerve wracking because for me, being single, I have to get myself to work, shop for groceries, etc.

The one medicine that I personally don't drive with is after I take my muscle relaxer...the opiates I have been on for so long and don't feel or see any lack in my ability. So I only take my Flexeril when I can be home for the next 8 or more hours as it makes me pretty drowsy..

I actually asked my PM Dr. who is a friend of mine as well, to be completely honest with me and do some tests in the office to see if my reflexes or ability is impaired (on the opiates) since I didn't want to be fooling myself..LOL....And he agreed that he couldn't tell..

But as we all mentioned...we could still be 'at fault' and it could get us into legal trouble.

 
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Old 06-15-2011, 09:05 PM   #10
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Re: Pain meds and driving

This actually happened to me. After a minor accident, the police noticed my med bottle in my purse. Long story short, I was arrested and charged with DUI. In PA it doesn't matter how long you have been taking it or how much. Any level of sched drugs is considered DUI. Even benadryl is...

It's crazy really. I ended up going into an ARD program for first time offenders. I still had to pay a binch of fines and such. That was the crappy part. Having to pay restitution and court costs, etc. when I had done nothing wrong.

I wanted to fight, but the public defender told me I stood no chance. Finally 2.5 years later, my record is supposed to be clear as part of the ARD agreement. But, I will never get that time back...time taken out of my life because I am a CP patient

Jean

 
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Old 06-15-2011, 10:54 PM   #11
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Re: Pain meds and driving

Unfortunately this is just another one of life's injustices that we have to endur as CP patients. The best advice is if you feel like you are in no way impaired and fine to drive, you probably are. But if your taking any medications that might make you the least bit drowsy, let someone else do the driving. And if at all possible don't carry your pill bottles around in your purse or car. I actually put my pills that I carry with me each day in a metal Altoids box. Nobody thinks twice about seeing an Altoids box in your purse.

Take care all....

kat

 
Old 06-15-2011, 11:08 PM   #12
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Re: Pain meds and driving

This post reminded me of the last time I got pulled over (years ago) for a burned out taillight that I was taken downtown in handcuffs because the police officer knewI was drunk. I had not had a thing to drink. Once at the station, I was asked to blow into the machine, which read 0.00 to alcohol.

I knew I had done well on the roadside sobriety check, although I was barefoot, coming from the beach. When I questioned the officer why he was so sure I was drinking, he told me that I have an "eye quiver" that usually means a person is drinking. In my case i just happened to have that quiver! My guess is that is a product of having strokes. This is what they are looking for when they shine the flashlight in your eyes, a back and forth quiver.

So, you never know how you may end up with legal problems. For example if I were to have been tested by blood, my medications would have surely popped up and things would have been quite different.

I rarely drive, due to the possibilities with the pain meds and the law.

 
Old 06-16-2011, 11:12 AM   #13
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Re: Pain meds and driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by jma295psu View Post
This actually happened to me. After a minor accident, the police noticed my med bottle in my purse. Long story short, I was arrested and charged with DUI. In PA it doesn't matter how long you have been taking it or how much. Any level of sched drugs is considered DUI. Even benadryl is...

It's crazy really. I ended up going into an ARD program for first time offenders. I still had to pay a binch of fines and such. That was the crappy part. Having to pay restitution and court costs, etc. when I had done nothing wrong.

I wanted to fight, but the public defender told me I stood no chance. Finally 2.5 years later, my record is supposed to be clear as part of the ARD agreement. But, I will never get that time back...time taken out of my life because I am a CP patient



mju58 writes:
I feel absolutely horrible for you! That is just wrong and I wonder if you'd have had someone other than PD in your corner if it wouldn't have been worth the fight. I mean I could "prove" the lack of impairment if anyone would take the time to test me. It could then be submitted to the courts. What you went through is my worst fear! I personally have a plastic pill case (it's small) I carry in my front pocket everywhere I go. The bottle of meds stays in my backpack I carry most places. My wife calls it my man purse. One would really have to do some checking to find my meds. The reason I "carry" the bottle with me is to "prove" the meds are prescribed to me if the question ever came up. A few pills in a pill case could look a bit shady if I didn't have the other proof. I personally drive all over the place putting up to 100 miles a day on the car and I don't have one bit of trouble. I contend anyone on a cell phone is 10X more dangerous than folks like us and I know it's not legal in many states but I still see tons of people on them. I do wish all of us some luck when out and about!
Jean
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Last edited by mju58; 06-16-2011 at 11:14 AM.

 
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Old 06-19-2011, 04:54 PM   #14
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Re: Pain meds and driving

Lesson was definitely learned, albeit the hard way. I now carry a pill fob that stays on me at all times. Not only for discretion but also security. Target gives a little information thing attached on each pill bottle with the info on it, and I keep that in my wallet. That way there's no question about the validity of the script, but I don't have to have an actual pill bottle with me all the time. Like they say, hindsight is 20/20...

 
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