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Your cold and flu medication can get you a DUI

Even in southern states like Georgia, winter is cold and flu season. Fortunately, there are plenty of over-the-counter (OTC) medications that can ease the symptoms and allow people to go to work and handle their other responsibilities while they're sick. Prescription medications can help with more serious cases.

Whatever kind of cold, flu or cough medication you're taking, it's essential to look at the ingredients. Many contain small (or not-so-small) amounts of alcohol. Some forms of NyQuil are 10 percent alcohol. That's fine if you're trying to get to sleep, but not if you're getting behind the wheel. Enough NyQuil can potentially put your blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit.

If you already have an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle, you may not be able to start your car after taking some medications that contain alcohol (or worse -- combining them with an alcoholic beverage). Setting off an IID can exacerbate the legal troubles that caused you to end up with one.

Even some medications that don't contain alcohol can make people drowsy and impact their reflexes and judgment. Others can have the opposite effect and make people jittery. Either way, that can be a recipe for disaster. If you're driving, it could leave you vulnerable to getting a DUI.

Remember the "UI" in DUI means "under the influence." You don't have to be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drug (or even a prescription drug) to face DUI charges -- even if you don't have a BAC over the legal limit. If your driving is impaired by any type of chemical or substance, you can be charged and potentially convicted.

If you're facing DUI charges because you were impaired by medication, your legal situation may be every bit as serious as if you got behind the wheel after a few drinks. It's wise to seek experienced legal guidance.