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Driving while on drugs can lead to OWI charges in Iowa

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2023 | DUI/OWI

You know that you face the possibility of drunk driving charges if the police catch you operating a vehicle while incapacitated by alcohol. Did you know that consuming drugs or medicine and then taking the wheel can also lead to an operating while incapacitated (OWI) arrest?

Iowa is one of a handful of states with distinct per se laws centered on drugged driving. For the uninitiated, this means you will face OWI charges if the authorities detect incapacitating substances in your system.

Drugs that cause effects similar to alcohol

If you have little or no experience with prescription drugs or illicit substances like heroin, you might not realize how much they can affect your driving. Some substances that cause incapacitation or alcohol-like effects include:

  • Pain medicines: Drugs such as Vicodin, Percocet and Tramadol treat pain but also affect your ability to drive safely
  • Anxiety drugs: Medicines like Xanax and valium that treat panic attacks or chronic anxiety can also impair driving
  • Sleeping aids: Prescription drugs such as Sonata or Ambien can treat insomnia, but they also cause incapacitation

These and other typically lawful substances lead to several incapacitating side effects. For example:

  • Excitability
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurry vision
  • Trouble focusing
  • Slow reaction time
  • Poor balance and coordination

Remember that some over-the-counter medicines, especially those meant to help you sleep, can also affect your driving and contribute to OWI charges.

Defend yourself from an OWI conviction

Even if you think your case is hopeless, don’t give up on defending yourself from conviction. Often, an error on the part of the arresting officer serves as the foundation for an effective defense. Explore all possible OWI defense options under the guidance of an experienced legal representative.