Anne Bishop, P. O. Box 313, Gainesville, GA 30503 (770) 783-5296

A. Bishop Law, LLC

DUI in Georgia: Prescription Drugs & Drugged Driving

DUI Lawyer in Hall County, Georgia, John Breakfield, is an experienced DUI Attorney and is dedicated to protecting your rights. If you have been charged with a DUI we can help. Please call 770-783-5296.

Today, more and more, people are being arrested for DUI of Prescription Drugs. The upswing is in both legally prescribed medication cases and arrests involving illegal "street" pills. It is important to note that even with a prescription, a driver is not immune from arrest and prosecution.

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In DUI Detection, police are trained to spot both alcohol DUI’s and Drug related DUI’s and know the differences. Whether you are medically impaired or under the influence of drugs other than alcohol, police may conduct a DUI investigation to determine if you are fit to drive.

DUI Lawyer in Hall County, Georgia, John Breakfield, is an experienced DUI Attorney and is dedicated to protecting your rights. If you have been charged with a DUI we can help. Please call 770-783-5296.

In Georgia, even lawfully prescribed medication can result in a DUI conviction if the driver is incapable of driving safely.  The standard is more strict if the driver is without a prescription or if the drugs are illegal.

The law regarding DUI Drugs is very broad and applies to many substances, under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391 (a) “A person shall not drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while: (2) Under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive;”

Under Georgia DUI Law, the fact that a person “is or has been legally entitled to use a drug shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating (Georgia’s DUI Law); provided, however, that such person shall not be in violation of this Code section unless such person is rendered incapable of driving safely as a result of using a drug other than alcohol which such person is legally entitled to use.”

The criminal punishments for DUI Alcohol and DUI drugs are mainly the same.  However, the license suspensions may differ.

Scientific Categories of Drugs

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are seven main categories of drugs and each type of drug has a different observable effect on a driver.

The following are the seven main types of drugs and their most common side effects:


These types of drugs slow down the function of the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.  They also slow down the heartbeat, blood pressure, respiration, and many other processes controlled by the brain.  The most common types of depressants are alcohol, anti-anxiety medications, and muscle relaxants.

Effect: drunken behavior such as acting drowsy, uncoordinated, sluggish, disoriented, and thick/slurred speech


This category of drugs impairs the central nervous system by speeding up or over-stimulating the brain.  The body’s functions are accelerated, such as heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and other processes of the body.  Examples of this drug are cocaine, methamphetamine, and other amphetamines.

Effect: restlessness, talkative, excited state, euphoria, exaggerated reflexes, grinding of the teeth, nasal area redness, runny nose, body tremors, and loss of appetite


Hallucinogens include some natural, organic substances, and some synthetic chemicals.  They impair the user’s ability to perceive the world as it really is; for example, the user may see things that are not there, or perhaps see things in a different way than they actually exist.  They also alter the user’s sensations, self-awareness, emotions, and thinking.  LSD is an example of a synthetic chemical hallucinogen.  Other examples include hallucinogenic mushrooms and ecstasy.

Effect: hallucinations, disorientation, paranoia, nausea, dazed appearance, body tremors, uncoordinated, perspiration (sweating), difficulty in speech, and goose bumps

Dissociative Anesthetics:

This category includes the drug PCP and its various forms and Dextromethorphan (DXM).  PCP is a very unpredictable drug that can sometimes act like a depressant, a stimulant, a hallucinogen, or all three at once.  Dissociative anesthetics can cause bizarre and sometimes violent behavior.

Effect: possibly violent and combative, muscle rigidity, blank stare, repetitive speech, confused, difficulty in speech, perspiration (sweating)

Narcotic Analgesics:

This drug category includes the natural derivatives of opium, such as morphine, heroin, codeine, and others.  It also includes many synthetic drugs.  This type of drug relieves pain and produces a very strong addition and withdrawal signs and symptoms.

Effect: droopy eyelids, facial itching, depressed reflexes, dry mouth, fresh puncture marks on body, and low/raspy speech


This category of drugs includes many familiar household products, such as paint, glue, aerosol sprays, etc.  Other examples are gasoline, hair spray, insecticides, ether, and chloroform. Of course, none of these products are meant for use as a drug, but are often abused.  They produce strong, volatile fumes that produce significant impairment.  Many inhalants block the passage of oxygen to the brain.

Effect: disorientation, confusion, slurred speech, nausea, and possible residue of substance on body and clothing


This type of drug includes marijuana hashish, as well as synthetic compounds.  The various cannabis products impair the attention process and the user’s ability to perform divided attention tasks.

Effect: reddening of eyes, disorientation, body tremors, odor of marijuana, difficulty in dividing attention, and relaxed inhibitions.

Law Enforcement and Drugged Driving Detection

One of the methods that police officers use to detect drugged driving is an eye examination.

According to NHTSA, the four main eye tests that a police officers perform are:

  1. Tracking ability
  2. Pupil Size
  3. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (eye jerking, side to side)
  4. Vertical Gaze Nystagmus (eye jerking, up and down)

Many substance abusers use more than one drug at a time.  The use of multiple drugs at one time can have different effects and outcomes on a driver’s behavior”it may make the impaired condition more apparent, or the mixed use of drugs may counteract the effects and make it initially less obvious to police.  However, through the use of various tests, police officers can detect whether a driver is impaired and less safe to drive/ incapable of driving safely.


Georgia DUI Lawyer, Anne Bishop, understand the differences and the similarities in DUI Alcohol and DUI Drug cases and can put that knowledge to work for you. Please Call or Email us about any questions you may have about GA DUI laws in Georgia and please remember your initial consultation is free of charge.

About the attorney:  Anne Bishop is a Georgia Lawyer with A. Bishop Law in Gainesville, Georgia and handles various DUI / DWIMarijuana Arrests and other Georgia Criminal Defense matters.  The law office of A. Bishop Law can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, OakwoodFlowery Branch), Jackson County  (Jefferson, Braselton) White County (Helen, Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of Northeast Georgia.

This article and/or video should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.

Anne Bishop
A. Bishop Law, LLC
Attorney at Law
539 Green Street NW
Phone: (770) 783-5296