Alcohol, marijuana, and illegal drugs are not the only substances that cause impaired and dangerous driving. Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs may have side effects that make driving dangerous. Driving while impaired by legal prescription and OTC drugs is also illegal.
Prescription and OTC drugs can have short-term and longer side effects. These may include:
- Sleepiness and drowsiness.
- Blurred vision.
- Delayed movements.
- Trouble focusing or paying attention.
Medicines affecting driving
Some medications, or a combination of medications, can impair driving. These include:
- Opioid pain relievers.
- Benzodiazepine and other prescription drugs for anxiety.
- Antipsychotic medications.
- Certain antidepressants.
- Drugs containing codeine.
- Some prescription and OTC cold and allergy medications such as antihistamines.
- Sleeping pills.
- Muscle relaxants.
- Medications for treating or control diarrhea.
- Motion sickness medicines.
- Diet pills, and other stimulants such as caffeine, ephedrine, and pseudoephedrine.
CBD products may cause sleepiness, sedation, and lethargy. Consumers must be cautious if they drive after consuming CBD products.
Prescription and OTC medications used for insomnia or staying asleep can impair driving. Medicines containing the sedative-hypnotic zolpidem, commonly found in these drugs, may cause side effects that persist through the next morning that impair driving. Extended-release forms of these medications increase the likelihood of impairment.
Immediate and extended forms of zolpidem are marketed as generic drugs and under these brand names:
- Ambien and Ambien CR in oral tablet form.
- Edluar in a tablet placed under the tongue.
- Intermezzo in a tablet placed under the tongue.
- Zolpimist in oral spray form.
Medicines containing antihistamines may provide relief from hay fever and other allergies. But antihistamines can also interfere with driving by slowing reaction time which impedes clear thinking and causes confusion.
By taking precautions with most medications, you may drive safely. Ask your doctor and pharmacist about potential side effects and how long they persist. There is also printed information on how medications affect driving.
Follow directions and read warnings on medication packaging or pharmacy handouts. Do not stop using medications unless your doctor tells you.
You should tell your health care practitioner about all prescription and OTC drugs and herbal products that you are taking. Inform them about any reactions you had. Health care providers may be able to adjust dosages, adjust the timing for taking medications or change medicines to eliminate or reduce side effects.
Victims of an accident caused by a driver impaired by even legal drugs may suffer serious and long-lasting injuries. Attorneys can help them seek compensation.