Most in New York City would likely think twice before getting behind the wheel after a long night of drinking. Yet what about after having taken a medication for back pain, or a pin reliever to combat a headache? It may be assumed that drugged driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Statistics seem to show that it may be almost as prevalent, as well. Information shared by the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that as recently as 2014, 10 million American adults and teens admitted to having driven under the influence of illicit drugs.

For many, it may go without saying that driving should be avoided after taking controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, LSD and heroin. Few may realize, however, that prescription drugs (and even certain over-the-counter medications) can produce the same impairing effects. It should be remembered that many medications fall into the category of tranquilizers, which work by inhibiting and suppressing certain body functions, thus slowing one’s reaction time much in the same way that alcohol does.

Even in instances where one was taking a drug that had been prescribed by a physician, he or she could potentially face criminal charges for driving while impaired by a drug. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles for the state of New York, the penalty for DWAI-Drug can be a fine up to $1,000, up to one year in prison and a minimum six month revocation of one’s license.

Defending oneself from the potential of a DWAI-Drug charge may be as simple as asking a doctor what the side effects of a medication may be. If the doctor does not list drowsiness, one might reasonably argue not knowing that a medication would have such an affect.