Between the commercials, the doctor’s instructions, and the label on the bottle, prescription drugs tend to come with a lot of warnings. Some of the side effects are rare, but others are almost a guarantee.
The typical conversation about DUI tends to be one about drinking and driving, or possibly being under the influence of illegal drugs while driving. Prescription drugs can have an equally dangerous effect on your ability to control a motor vehicle, and bring similar consequences if you are caught driving under the influence.
This is what you should think about if you drive and are taking prescription medications.
Impaired drivers are dangerous
It almost seems unfair that you could get a DUI while on prescription medication. The fact that it was prescribed suggests that you need it.
The problem, however, is that some medications can impact your ability to drive safely more than alcohol. Some medications can have side effects, including:
- Blurred vision
These side effects can come on quickly and could have a serious impact on you and other drivers on the road. Often, older drivers are on more medication and are at higher risk both for a DUI from prescription medications and for dangerous side effects.
Prepared with a new prescription
Just because you are on a prescription medication does not mean you will never be able to drive. There are important steps to take when you start any medication to make sure you can drive safely and avoid a DUI, such as:
- Try before you drive. When starting a new medication, give yourself several hours after the first dose to see how your body reacts.
- Arrange for a backup. Take someone with you the first time driving while on a medication that seems to be safe. You do not want to be surprised by a new side effect far from home with no one to help you get back.
- Know your schedule. If you only need your medication at night, for example, try to plan your dosage so that you can drive safely after it has worn off.
- Watch the warnings. The list of warnings may be overwhelming, but it is important. Being on a prescription medication comes with the added responsibility of understanding the side effects it will have.
Getting caught driving while on a prescription medication that impacts your ability to drive safely can be serious. In addition to the harm you could cause to yourself and other drivers, the consequences for a DUI while on prescription medication is the same as an alcohol-related DUI.
If you are caught driving under the influence of medications that impact your ability to drive, you could face suspension of your license, jail time and expensive fines.