When you think about driver impairment that leads to DWI, you may think about alcohol or illegal drugs. While it is certainly true that these substances can cause impairment, you may not know that you can also face DWI charges after taking medications for which you have a doctor’s prescription.
It may seem counterintuitive that you could face DWI charges for a drug that you obtain and take legally and according to your doctor’s instructions. Nevertheless, many of these medications have side effects that can impair your driving ability, even when you take them as directed.
How can prescription drugs affect your driving?
Different medications cause various side effects. Drugs that make you drowsy are particularly dangerous while driving because you could fall asleep behind the wheel.
Other side effects that are potentially dangerous if occurring while driving include dizziness, shakiness and nausea. Some medications can negatively affect vital driving skills such as your coordination and your judgment.
Do some medications pose a greater risk than others?
The risk of a crash seems to increase with antidepressants, muscle relaxants, opioids and sedatives. Sometimes a combination of two or more medications can cause impairment where one alone would not. There is also a risk if you combine some prescription medications with alcohol.
How do you know if a medication’s side effects can impair driving?
If there is a risk with taking a certain medication, there will be a warning on the label. This informs you not to drive while taking the medication.
It is not only prescription drugs that can impair driving. There may also be a risk from over-the-counter medications. Before taking any medication, check the instructions first and refrain from driving if they tell you not to.