Most people are aware of the risks of drinking and driving. Most people know that they shouldn’t drink and drive. And although, most people know that some prescribed medications can have an effect our abilities to drive, few people stop to think that maybe they shouldn’t drive after taking medication.
And do we really stop and read all of the warnings on the medication bottle? Don’t operate heavy machinery. Sound familiar? A car is a machine and it is heavy. There’s a reason that warning is there. A person won’t have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or above but they might be considered under the influence. Being under the influence is all you need to be charged with Vehicle Code section 23152(a).
What kinds of medications can cause you to be under the influence? Tranquilizers, narcotic pain pills, sleep aids, antidepressants, cough medicines, antihistamines, and decongestants to name a few. How might they cause you to be under the influence? Drowsiness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, and confusion, to name a few. Kind of sounds like being drunk, doesn’t it?
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that almost half of people 70 years old and above take up to five medications per day. Furthermore, based on a random survey the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 72% of people 55 and over, the demographic most likely to take medications for chronic conditions, had no idea that their driving performances could be affected by their medications.
Unlike alcohol, prescribed medication is usually not recreational and must be taken for health purposes. Be aware that something you must do can affect your driving ability and that, in turn, puts you at risk for obtaining a DUI charge.