Driving while under the influence is one of the most dangerous things anyone can do. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that almost 30 people die every day in intoxicated driving accidents in the United States.
While most people recognize the danger of driving while drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs, there is a less widespread understanding of the potential dangers of driving after taking prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication. Even though these medications are perfectly legal and highly accessible, driving after ingesting certain medications can be as dangerous as driving drunk.
In fact, in a National Roadside Study of Alcohol and Drug Use, the NHTSA found that 10% of people driving during the week during the daytime tested positive for prescriptions and/or over-the-counter drugs.
Prescription Drugs That Drivers Shouldn’t Use
While prescription drugs are generally more likely than OTC drugs to have side effects that impair driving, both kinds of medications can make it hazardous to drive. Some of the drugs that can impact your driving abilities include:
- Opioids (Percocet, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxycontin, etc.)
- Anti-anxiety medicine such as benzodiazepines, which includes diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), and clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Antipsychotic drugs
- Anti-seizure drugs (antiepileptic drugs)
- Certain antidepressants
- Products containing codeine (such as some prescription cough syrups)
- Sleeping pills
- Muscle relaxants
Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida, driving under the influence of marijuana is still extremely dangerous and illegal.
Some drugs that are available over-the-counter may also cause drowsiness or other side effects that impair driving. These include:
- Cold/flu medicine (particularly if it is described as being for nighttime use)
- Antihistamines, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
- Motion sickness medication
- Diet pills, “stay awake” drugs, or other stimulant medicines (ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, caffeine)
If a drug comes with a warning to not operate heavy machinery, this includes driving a car. Many drivers mistakenly think this warning does not apply to driving, and then get behind the wheel and cause an accident.
Ways Prescription Drugs and OTC Medications Can Impair Driving
Even though prescription and OTC drugs are legal, they can have profound effects on a person’s driving ability. These side effects include:
- Blurred vision
- Slowed movement
- Decreased reaction time
- Trouble focusing
Some medications only temporarily impact your ability to drive. Others have side effects that last several hours or even until the next day. It’s critically important to fully read drug instructions and to consult with your doctor about how any prescribed medication will impact your ability to drive.
Were You Hurt in a Crash with a Driver Who Was on Medication?
If you were hurt in a crash with a driver who was on medication at the time, you may be eligible for compensation to help pay for your medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Contact an experienced impaired driving attorney today from Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A. With more than 100 years of combined experience, our seasoned attorneys are ready to help you. When life changes, we’re there.
Call us now for your free consultation.