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Is it illegal to take sedative hypnotics and drive

Hypnotics/sleeping medication, though not strictly illegal to possess, can have the ability to impair your motor skills and cause drowsiness, making driving while under their influence unsafe. This article will go over the effects of hypnotics on one’s driving as well as the legal ramifications of doing so. If you still have questions regarding driving while using hypnotics after reading this article, please consider contacting us for more information.

Is it illegal to possess sedatives?

Substances that fall under benzodiazepines and sedatives are only legal to possess if you have a certified prescription to take these drugs. Otherwise, possessing these drugs either for personal use or for distribution/sale is a crime that may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Even if you are prescribed one of these substances, it may still be hazardous to be under their influence while driving and may cause accidents. Effects vary between prescriptions, but a sedative could impair your driving for 4-24 hours after taking. 

When is someone under possession of a controlled substance?

When we think of possessing something, we tend to imagine physically carrying the item, and while this is a one definition of “possession”, you do not necessarily have to have a controlled substance directly on you to fit the legal definition of possessing a drug. There are three main ways you could be in possession of a controlled substance: joint possession, constructive possession, and actual possession.

  • Actual possession is what it sounds like – you are carrying the drugs directly on your person, in your clothes, hands, or something else you are carrying. 
  • Constructive possession is where the drugs are yours and you have control over them, but the drugs aren’t on you. For example, you may be storing drugs in a box in your apartment, or you may be storing the drugs in the glove compartment of a vehicle you own.
  • Joint possession is some version of either of the other two forms of possession, except two or more parties have ownership of the controlled substance. 

In this article, we have explained the legality of possessing drugs such as sleep medications as well as what it means to “possess” a controlled substance. If you or someone you know is currently being charged with possessing a controlled substance, please consider contacting us.

Regardless of the classification of the offense, it is important that you seek the assistance of competent legal counsel to help you best understand your legal defense while identifying an outcome that best minimizes your risk. We here at the H Law Group patiently await your call.

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