It’s common knowledge that drinking alcoholic beverages or ingesting illegal drugs before getting behind the wheel of a car is not only extraordinarily ill-advised and dangerous, but illegal as well, since they have the potential to impair your judgment and decrease your reaction times and can subsequently lead to a terrible accident.
However, a lesser-known hazard that drivers should be aware of is that posed by some legitimate, legal medications as well. Many medications – even seemingly innocent, over-the-counter ones – can result in impairment that can contribute to a car accident or even a DWI charge.
So, while reading the labels on medications may seem like a cure for insomnia, it may alert you to possible risks like falling asleep behind the wheel of your car, since statistics have shown that approximately 44 percent of all fatal car accidents are fueled by drug-based reactions of all sorts.
Reading may not, however, bring understanding; according to experts, “a lot of people don’t make the connection that [the warning]‘Do not use while operating heavy machinery’ means a car.”
If you are taking a prescription drug, get a prescription for a new medicine or a higher dose of a current drug, or even get a new over-the-counter med, it is imperative that you do not drive until you have ascertained what effect it has on your judgment, coordination, and reaction time. Additionally, certain medications may not impair you by themselves, but if taken with a second medication, with alcohol – or both – they may indeed cause impairment.
Cold and allergy medicines, sleep aids, and other over-the-counter medications can cause side effects, including drowsiness, nausea, and blurred vision…all of which can put everyone on the road at risk. Quite simply put, if you are taking a prescription or over-the-counter medication that may impair your driving, you should not drive. Period.
There are a number of side-effects that are common to some medications that drivers should be on the lookout for. They include, but are not limited to:
- Aggressive behavior
- Blurry vision
- Inability focus
- Slowed reaction times
In addition, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has listed the most common medications – both prescriptions and over-the-counter – that have been known to cause potential impairment – from minor to major – when driving a vehicle. Again, they include, but are not limited to:
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Anti-diarrheal\Anti-seizure medications\
- Antipsychotic drugs
- Cannabidiol products
- Diet pills
- Motion sickness drug
- Muscle relaxants\
- Opioid pain relievers
- Prescription and over-the-counter allergy medications
- Prescription and over-the-counter cold remedies
- Prescription and over-the-counter sleeping pills
In addition to the aforementioned advice to thoroughly read the label on any medication you will be taking, it’s also highly recommended to discuss the matter with your physician or pharmacist in order to be fully-versed in any potential side-effects and to get comprehensive instructions on how to correctly take your meds, both in terms of dose and frequency.
Some side effects last longer than others – from hours to days – so whenever starting a new medication, it’s best to take your time and assess its effect upon you before getting behind the wheel of a car. This way, you’ll be keeping yourself, your loved ones, and members of the public safe and secure.
In addition, driving while under the influence of any side-effects that your legal medication may be causing is still against the law and can result in fines and jail time if convicted, so always exercise caution when driving on meds to avoid any potential legal entanglements as well.
Do you need to know more about the risks of driving while impaired? Have you been injured in a motor vehicle crash? Contact the accident attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP at 866-878-6774 now or fill out our simple form for a free consultation.