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Can prescription drugs lead to a DWI arrest?

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2023 | Drug Offenses, Dui |

It’s common knowledge that being under the influence of alcohol impairs judgment and makes driving unsafe. However, prescription and over-the-counter medicines can also have adverse effects that make it unsafe to get behind the wheel. If the police stop you for reckless driving and you have drugs in your system, whether prescription or not, you can face driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges.

Be aware of how medication may affect you

Many medications should be fine to take before driving, but some drugs may trigger strong reactions or side effects and put you in danger.

For example, many over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as antihistamines, cold medicine, medical marijuana and muscle relaxants, cause drowsiness. Sleepiness may decrease your reaction time and attentiveness.

Meanwhile, large doses of stimulants can make users feel high and cause hallucinations, impairing driving.

Other side effects to watch out for are:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Blurry vision
  • Slow movement
  • Inability to focus
  • Trouble breathing

Both prescription and over-the-counter medicines should contain paperwork that lists their side effects and any safety precautions. If you see a “do not operate heavy machinery” sign on one of them, that means driving your car is off-limits.

It’s also important to remember that some medications may not cause side effects on their own. Instead, they develop reactions when combined with certain foods, drinks or other medications. If you’re unsure about any particular combinations, speak to your doctor or a pharmacist.

If you begin to feel drowsy, disoriented or otherwise unwell after taking medication, consider having someone else drive. Insisting on driving in these conditions might endanger you and other drivers.

A conviction for a prescription drug-related DWI is serious and carries severe penalties, including fines and jail time. Don’t put yourself at risk by underestimating the effects of your prescription medications. Reading the warning label, following the recommended dosage and understanding the potential side effects of a drug can keep you safe.