Driving Laws while on Fentanyl

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New Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 1/4/2008 6:18 PM (GMT -6)   
Does anyone know what the laws are about driving while on Fentanyl patches.  I have been on the 75's for some time and do not feel that they affect my cognative abilities.  I have heard that if you are in an accident and they find out you are on the patch you can automatically be considered under the influence.  Does anyone else know what the laws are.  I realize they are different for each state.

Eliza Jane

Fentanyl Patches, Fentora, Dilaudid, Baclofen, Klonopin

Olivopontocerebellar atrophy (OPCA) - degeneration of neurons in specific areas of the brain – the cerebellum, pons, and inferior olives.   Ataxia known as Machado-Joseph disease.

Post Edited (ElizaJane) : 1/4/2008 4:29:27 PM (GMT-7)

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 495
   Posted 1/4/2008 7:05 PM (GMT -6)   
Eliza - I would call your local police station or the doctor prescribing them to you. It's going to vary from place to place, and in my opinion this is something that you'll need to talk to the state police about. Also - the patch may not make you feel it in your head at all - BUT - it might very well slow down your reaction time.
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   Posted 1/5/2008 4:33 PM (GMT -6)   
It sure would be wise to ask about this in your state. I know that in the UK you can be ticketed for DUI if you have too insulin shock....since you took the insulin and didn't eat enough then it's your fault. That one is pretty scary, so maybe here in the states there are specific laws about narcotics no matter what form they're in.

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Date Joined Dec 2007
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   Posted 1/6/2008 2:46 AM (GMT -6)   
Hi Eliza,
My husband is a police officer and I know in our state, that if you are caught driving while taking controlled substances, you can be charged with driving under the influence. I also know that there was w study out there recently that said that if you are taking opiates for chronic pain, that your reaction times are not effected as they would be for someone who is taking them on a short term basis, and that is leading to proposals for new laws in some states.
It's not just fentanyl patches that can cause you to be charged, it's any of the opiates and some other medications that cause drowsiness or alter your reaction times.
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New Member

Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 9
   Posted 1/7/2008 2:25 AM (GMT -6)   
MRSM thank you for taking the time to answer my question. So basically, anyone taking any controlled prescription for pain would be considered driving under the influence. Fortunately, I do not drive and my husband is great about taking me places. It looks like many chronic pain patients - according to the laws in most states - should NOT be driving. I did call my doctor and he basically said the exact same thing you did. If you are involved in an accident, they can send a questionaire asking if you are on any meds. According to my doctor you can be found at fault and if he was asked about it, he would testify that patients are warned about driving and pain meds and the pharmacy gives each patient written warnings in the patient education material. He said it was not worth the risk. Some people drive and try and get away with it, but if an accident happens you could be sued.

Eliza Jane

Fentanyl Patches, Fentora, Dilaudid, Baclofen, Klonopin

Olivopontocerebellar atrophy (OPCA) - degeneration of neurons in specific areas of the brain – the cerebellum, pons, and inferior olives.   Ataxia known as Machado-Joseph disease.

Post Edited (ElizaJane) : 1/7/2008 12:28:03 AM (GMT-7)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 610
   Posted 1/7/2008 3:04 AM (GMT -6)   
I thought I should share my story on this subject. 2 years ago I fell asleep while driving(rolled down a hill only hurting myself and my car) from taking Geodon (which I took for bipolar), but was also taking methadone at the same time. They sent me a paper for my doctor to fill out asking if I had any medical conditions that could of caused the accident and he wrote that I was taking methadone. Well they told me I could keep my license as long as I retook the written and drivers test again to prove that I was able to drive while on them. Well I passed and and the license department knows I'm taking narcotics. Well I live in washington state, but I dont know if this goes for other states. And I have since stop taking Geodon.

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 90
   Posted 1/7/2008 6:48 AM (GMT -6)   
They cannot just convict you of DUI because you are on pain meds. They have to prove you are impaired, beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be difficult because even the warning on the bottle merely states that "May cause drowsiness. Alcohol may intensify this effect. Use care when operating a car or dangerous machinery." I also have never been told not to drive by any doctor. My father is a lawyer by the way, and he formerly prosecuted DUIs, and he is the one who told me this. I live in WA state btw. The recommendation he gave me was to never take a field sobriety test (ever, no matter what), and agree to take the breathalyser (due to WA state's implied consent law). Thus in this situation I would give them no evidence to prove I was intoxicated, which is the sole reason for having the field sobriety test. It is there just to prove you guilty. In WA they can only draw blood (I think) if you are in an accident which results in "grave bodily injury or death." I hope that is some use to the people here. I believe I would answer the officers if they asked me what meds I was on, but I might just remain silent (ALWAYS CONSIDER THIS OPTION WHEN TALKING TO THE POLICE). Oh and a bit off topic, but if youve been drinking and you are pulled over for DUI, and first dont take the field sobriety test, and secondly when the cop asks you how much you have had to drink that night dont say ANYTHING! EVEN IF YOUVE HAD ONE BEER! The breathalyser will show that, but you never want to admit to drinking, because you do not have to be over the legal limit to be DUI, they just have to show you are impaired, thus the importance of never taking the field sobriety test. This is just my opinion (based on recommendations from a lawyer), but I know a bit about law from countless conversations with my father since I was a child about it.

I hope this was useful and that everyone is having a pain-free day.
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