DUI Prescription Drugs

DUI and Prescription Drug laws

Many people think that you can only get arrested or charged with a DUI if you have been drinking alcohol.  NOT TRUE. In fact, many people are arrested, charged and even convicted of DUI in Las Vegas when they have not consumed a single alcoholic beverage.  How? In Nevada, a person can be convicted of driving under the influence when they have drugs in their system.  More importantly, they do not have to be illegal drugs.  One of the fastest growing types of DUI arrests involves DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS. 


You can be convicted of a DUI in Nevada for driving after taking prescription drugs and then driving, even if you are taking medication pursuant to a lawful and valid prescription, and even if you have not taken any alcohol or illegal drugs.

Nevada law – specifically NRS 484C.110 -- makes it illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of any controlled substance.   This includes prescription drugs.  And, unlike DUI's for alcohol or illegal drugs, there is NO threshold minimum/maximum amount of a prescription medication that is allowable. This means, that you can be arrested and convicted of a DUI offense for having even the slightest amount of prescribed controlled substance in your system.

In Nevada, pursuant to NRS 484C.160, if the driver of a vehicle is suspected of DUI while driving or being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while on a public roadway, they are legally considered to have given consent to be tested for alcohol or other controlled substances.  This can be done by providing a breath, blood or urine sample for testing. What does this mean for you?  It means that if police believe you are under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or prescription drugs, they can, and will, test  you - - even without your consent.

What types of Prescription Medications can lead to a DUI charge?

Various types of prescriptions are thought to have effects that lead to causing a driver to be “under the influence.” 

The most common types are “narcotic analgesics” – commonly referred to as “painkillers.”  Common narcotic analgesics are Morphine, Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Oxycontin, Percocet, and Demerol. 

Other medications, called “sedative-hypnotics,” commonly referred to as “sleeping pills,” are prescribed for people who have difficulty sleeping (known as insomnia).  Among the most common sedative-hypnotics are Ambien and Lunestra.  As one would expect, these types of prescription drugs depress and slow down body functions, which can result in “impaired” driving. 

Common side effects of painkillers and sleeping pills, which lead to DUI charges, include the following:  Feelings of drowsiness, Lightheadedness, Labored breathing, Weakness, Nausea, Fatigue, Lack of coordination, Delayed reaction and Impaired or altered judgment.

In some notable cases, individuals have experienced “sleep driving” - - the same experience as a classic case of “sleep walking” - - but where the person asleep is actually behind the wheel of a car. 

Because of these risks, when an individual is prescribed such a medication, these patients are advised, both by a medical doctor and with a warning label on the side of the prescription bottle, that they should use caution when operating a motor vehicle. If a driver chooses to ignore this warning and is discovered to have these medications in his or her system, they can, and often are, arrested and charged under Nevada's DUI laws.

What am I facing if I am charged with DUI for Prescription Drugs?

Under Nevada Revised Statutes 484C.400, a first time offense for DUI with Prescription Drugs can include the following penalties

  • Fine of $400 to $1,000;
  • Mandatory jail time of two (2) days to six (6) months;
  • 48 to 96 hours of community service;
  • controlled substance counseling courses;
  • Possible drug abuse treatment program; and
  • Revocation of driver's license privileges.  

The penalties reflect the punishments for a FIRST offense only.  For each additional offense for DUI, the punishments escalate… or enhance.  For a third or subsequent DUI offense, it becomes a FELONY punishable by MANDATORY PRISON TIME. 


If you have been arrested or charged for DUI involving prescription medication, or know someone who has, we can help.  If you want to ask us questions about your rights, the specifics of a DUI prescription drug case, or request a FREE COPY of your Nevada Driver's Rights Card, call us today at (702) 895-6760 or outside Las Vegas at (855) LVNV DUI or submit your case online (click here) today.  We offer a FREE, no obligation case evaluation with our experienced DUI attorney.  Just because you were arrested, DOES NOT mean you must be convicted!  Contact the law firm of Hofland & Tomsheck - - “Fighting for Justice, Fighting for YOU!”


LVNVDUI.COM and the law firm of Hofland & Tomsheck handles cases and represents individuals, both residents and visitors, charged with DUI and Drunk Driving offenses.

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If you are arrested or charged with a DUI in Las Vegas or surrounding areas, finding the best lawyer to fight for you should be your top priority. Just because you have been arrested does NOT mean you will be convicted. Attorney Josh Tomsheck of the law firm of Hofland & Tomsheck find the best defense to your Nevada DUI charge - - Fighting for Justice - - Fighting for you!