If you’re like most older Americans, you’re probably on a couple of different prescriptions. In fact, it’s estimated that about 75% of adults 50 years of age and older take at least one or two kinds of prescription medication — and the percentage gets higher as people age. You may even have a couple of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that are part of your regular arsenal of medicines.
Well, watch out: You could end up with a charge of driving under the influence — even if every drug you are on is perfectly legal. Those OTC meds and your regular drugs can (together or alone) cause a variety of symptoms that make it unsafe for you to drive.
Some of the biggest “problem drugs” when it comes to driving include:
- Narcotic painkillers, like oxycontin or Vicodin
- Sleeping aids, including drugs like Ambien or NyQuil
- Antidepressants, including common ones like Prozac
- Antihistamines, like Benadryl or Claritin
- Decongestants, including many OTC cold remedies
- Cough medications, whether they’re prescription or not
Many of those drugs come with warning labels that advise people not to operate heavy machinery until they know how the drug affects them — and that includes any motor vehicles.
But what if you don’t realize that a drug is making you disoriented or drowsy until you’re pulled over by a police officer for missing a stop sign, driving too slowly or weaving over the yellow line? First, it’s important to remember one thing — you don’t want to tell the police officer that you just took some medication. That’s not an excuse: That’s a confession. Your admission may be all it takes to convict you of driving under the influence.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI due to a medication you took, talk to a defense attorney about your options.