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How certain medications impair driving ability

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2021 | DUI

Most people know that driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. However, not as many people are aware of how certain over-the-counter and prescription medications can affect the way a person operates a vehicle.

There are numerous legal drugs that cause impairments much as alcohol does, and driving under their influence can also result in a DUI.

Common side effects of certain medications

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, if you read the potential side effects listed on the packages of prescription or OTC drugs, some of them sound similar to how alcohol affects a person. These include blurred vision, inability to focus, slowed reaction time, dizziness and drowsiness. Other side effects, such as excitability, nausea and fainting, can also have a big effect on one’s driving. Some of these effects last for a short time, while others last for hours.

Drugs that impair driving

Some common prescription medications that impair driving ability include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Opioids and other pain relievers
  • Anti-anxiety meds
  • Anti-psychotic drugs
  • Codeine-containing meds
  • Sleeping pills

Prescription drugs are not the only ones that have side effects that affect driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discusses there are certain over-the-counter meds that individuals should not take before getting behind the wheel. Some examples include antihistamines or other allergy medication, cold meds, sleep aids, motion sickness meds, diet pills and anti-diarrhea drugs.

If someone needs to take a medication that does not mix with driving, the best thing to do is avoid getting behind the wheel. If it is a concern, patients should talk with their doctors about an alternative medication, a lower dose or a different schedule of dosing that does not interfere with driving.

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