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The Tiger Woods DUI case: a cautionary tale for medication users

Most everyone in America is aware that the champion golfer Tiger Woods was arrested in Florida in May on suspicion of drunk driving. His car was discovered still running but damaged and stopped along the side of a roadway in the early morning hours.

He was found asleep behind the wheel. Chemical testing showed no alcohol was in Woods’ system at the time of the arrest, but he was said to have failed several field sobriety tests and was videotaped acting erratically and slurring his words.

Alcohol wasn’t to blame, but Woods admitted having a mixture of prescription medications in his system at the time of his arrest. He argued that an unexpected reaction to those drugs resulted in his state of disarray. Woods has undergone several newsworthy surgeries and medical procedures in recent years to address issues in his back, the most recent of which was just a month prior to his arrest.

What this means for people like you and me

The Woods case is a reminder that issues regarding medications and driving can happen to anyone. We’ve written about the concept of “drugged driving” in past blog posts, and how Tennessee’s criminal justice system handles these cases.

Like many other states, Tennessee uses officers with additional training at detecting drugged driving. These officers are called Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). But the waters are still murky when it comes to scientifically objective standards for drugged or impaired driving when alcohol isn’t the intoxicant involved.

The huge range of possible prescription and over-the-counter medications available that could possibly have an intoxicating effect on a driver is too vast to list here, but includes:

  • Cold and flu remedies
  • Pain relievers
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Anti-anxiety agents
  • Antidepressants

Each of our bodies will metabolize medications differently, so there isn’t even a standardized list of substances that should be avoided prior to getting behind the wheel. If you are taking an OTC or prescribed medication, pay close attention to how you respond to it before you drive. Don’t rely on how someone else reacted to form your opinion on how you will react. Take the medicine yourself and carefully consider how you are responding to it before driving. Also, follow any warnings on the medication that state it may cause drowsiness or that you should not operate a motor vehicle. This will hopefully help you to avoid any issues with a potential drugged driving or DUI charge.

Should you find yourself facing impaired driving allegations, though, an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney with in-depth knowledge of the relevant laws and procedures can help you protect your rights.


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