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The role of prescription drugs in DUIs

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2020 | Criminal Defense

It goes without saying that driving while under the influence can lead to devastating consequences. Most people identify recreational drugs and alcohol as common, problematic substances. However, prescription drugs taken for legitimate reasons may sometimes lead to impaired driving as well. 

When discovered, law-abiding and responsible drivers might find themselves facing DUI charges. These incidents are becoming so prevalent that the FDA recently updated its old reminder that drivers should refrain from taking some medications when they intend to operate a vehicle. 

Medications to keep in mind

The FDA provides a long list of medications that might present problems for drivers. It also warns that while one drug might not impair a driver, combining it with others may create problems. Here are some of the drugs it considers dangerous for drivers: 

  • Drugs prescribed for treating anxiety 
  • Drugs containing codeine 
  • Anti-seizure medication 
  • Opioid pain relievers 
  • Muscle relaxants 

Many over-the-counter drugs may also present complications while driving. Some of these include sleeping pills, motion sickness medication and antihistamines. 

Effects of medication

The NHTSA confirms this warning and identifies some of the symptoms drivers might struggle with. These include blurred visions, drowsiness and nausea. All of these symptoms may make it difficult for a driver to remain alert and respond quickly to obstacles while driving. 

Unfortunately, the effects of some drugs creep up on those who take them. The effects can make it difficult for the driver to even know he or she is now impaired. This commonly occurs when people switch medications or take multiple medications that react with each other. Because of this, many people refrain from operating a vehicle while taking any new medication until they confirm the effect it may have.