Driving drugged: You may already be guilty by mistake

You’d never get behind the wheel after drinking, and you don’t touch illegal drugs. How, then, could you be guilty of drugged driving?

Easily enough: Prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs can and do cause impaired functioning in many people. Some may not even realize that they’re impaired when they get behind the wheel of their car.

What drugs tend to lead to impaired driving?

Almost any drug that has a mind-altering effect can leave you too impaired to drive. Specific culprits, however, include:

  • Painkillers. Opioids like oxycontin, Vicodin and similar drugs can affect your reaction times, coordination and judgment. They can also increase the sedating or disorienting effects of other drugs.
  • Sleep aids. Ambien and other prescription sleep aids gained a reputation for causing people to get behind the wheel while still half-asleep, and many accidents resulted. Even over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aids, e.g., NyQuil, can cause problems for drivers.
  • Cold and allergy drugs. Some OTC cold and allergy medications can cause excessive drowsiness and blurred vision, which can make it impossible to drive well.
  • Muscle relaxers. Drugs like Norflex and Zanaflex are commonly used for joint pain, muscle pain and back injuries, but they can all leave drivers disoriented and unable to focus normally.

Many contain vague warnings about not operating heavy machinery until you know how a drug affects you — but that’s less than clear to many patients. It’s highly possible that you — or someone close to you — has driven under the influence of one of these drugs at least once when you probably should have called for a ride.

What can you do if you’re charged with drugged driving?

A DWI charge has the potential to cause significant long-term problems for you. If your medication led to a traffic stop and DWI charges, do not try to explain anything to the officer or talk your way out of the situation. That could easily hand the police evidence against you.

Instead, put your faith in an experienced defense attorney here in Mount Morris.