Did you know you can be arrested for DUI if you drive while impaired by legal, over-the-counter medications? It’s true that some OTC medications can impair your driving, especially in combination with other medicines or with alcohol. If any substance impairs your driving, you can be charged with DUI if you drive while under its influence.
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize these drugs can impair them. They assume that, since no prescription is needed, the effects of the drug must not be strong or dangerous. This is not true. Many OTC drugs cause drowsiness, which can be increased with the addition of alcohol. Others contain stimulants, which can make you drive more aggressively and take chances.
Your first clue that an OTC medicine could impair your driving is that it may have a warning that says, “be careful when driving or operating heavy machinery.” However, not every medicine will have such a warning. You should always become familiar with the effects a medication will have on you before driving. You should also be aware that the effects of an OTC medication could last for several hours or even until the next day.
Examples of common OTC drugs that can impair driving include:
- Cold remedies and allergy products, especially those containing antihistamines
- Some diarrhea treatments, including Imodium (loperamide) and Pepto Diarrhea Control
- Motion sickness drugs including Bonine and Dramamine
- Medications containing stimulants (e.g. caffeine, ephedrine or pseudoephedrine), such as diet pills and “stay awake” drugs
Beware of cannabidiol (CBD)
There is little research into the effects of CBD, a component of hemp or marijuana that is supposed to contain very little THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis. The FDA has approved only one CBD drug, the prescription seizure drug Epidiolex. Other uses of CBD are unregulated.
Based on the research into Epidiolex, we know that CBD can cause drowsiness, lethargy and sedation. There is also evidence that CBD sometimes has enough THC to trigger a positive drug test. In Tennessee and many states, you can be convicted of DUI if you drive while any amount of THC is present in your system.
If you’re arrested for DUI, get help
As far as the police are concerned, impairment is impairment. You should avoid driving while taking any medication that can cause sleepiness, excitability or other driving impairments. These effects can be increased in combination or when used while drinking alcohol. You could be more impaired than you know.
If you are arrested for DUI after taking OTC medications or CBD, don’t panic. Call an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.