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Medications: Not Always Safe for Driving

If you are currently taking medication to treat anxiety, pain, insomnia, allergies, depression, or another medical condition, is it safe to drive? According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), “While most medications don’t affect driving ability, some prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can cause reactions that may make it unsafe to drive.”

Whenever you are prescribed medications, it’s important to check the label and check with your doctor or pharmacist if the drug can interfere with driving. If the warning label on the medicine cautions against mixing it with alcohol, or if it cautions against operating machinery, then there is a definite possibility that the medication can impair your driving ability.

What types of reactions can make it unsafe to drive?

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Attention and focus difficulties
  • A slowed reaction time (e.g. sleeping pills, pain killers)

In most states, including California, driving under the influence of medication is a legal issue. While state laws about drugged driving differ, in California DUI of drugs is treated the same as an alcohol-related DUI. This means that if you can face the same penalties for a prescription drug DUI as one that is alcohol-related.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that it’s difficult to determine exactly how drugs affect driving because people are in the practice of mixing different substances; sometimes they mix drugs with alcohol. “But we do know that even small amounts of some drugs can have a measurable effect,” says the NIDA.

According to the NIDA’s 2014 statistics:

  • Men are more inclined to drive under the influence of drugs than women.
  • Adults between the ages of 18 and 25 tend to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol more than adults above the age of 25.
  • In addition to marijuana, prescription drugs are frequently connected to drugged driving crashes in the United States.
  • The most common prescriptions linked to drugged driving crashes were pain relievers.
  • 47 percent of the fatal crashes involved drivers who were on a prescription drug, compared to 37 percent who had marijuana in their system.

If you are facing DUI of drugs charges in Orange County, we urge you to contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. for a free case evaluation. As DUI defense specialists, we are well-qualified to provide you with aggressive representation!