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*excluding traffic tickets*

Helping people when they need it most.

Yes, your cold medicine could lead to a DWI

If you have ever taken a cold medicine that contained diphenhydramine, an antihistamine or decongestants, you may realize that it’s going to make you tired. This is particularly likely if you take a medication that is labeled as “nighttime” medicine or a “sleep aid.”

Even if you aren’t taking a nighttime cold medicine, it’s important to remember that the contents could potentially make you tired. Certain medications in non-drowsy cold medicine could make some people tired, too. For example, a typically non-drowsy antihistamine like Claritin might affect some people differently and cause some fatigue.

Decongestants may make you tired, as well. Decongestants like pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine don’t usually make people tired, but they can.

What should you do if you have a cold and need to take medicine before you drive?

The best thing you can do is make sure you understand how the medicine is going to affect you. If you have never taken it before, don’t take it before you drive. Instead, take it when you are going to be home and will have the time to see its effects.

If you don’t feel drowsy on the medication and remain alert, then it may be okay to drive with the medication in your system. If you feel drowsy or tired, then consider other options for getting to your destination, such as hiring a ride-sharing service or taking a cab.

Can you get a DWI for driving with cold medicine in your system?

Yes. Any substance that impairs you to a point of not driving safely can result in a DWI. If you are dizzy, have slurred speech, are tired behind the wheel or are otherwise impaired because of the medication, then the officer who stops you may decide to arrest you for driving while impaired.

Alcohol is not the only substance that impairs people, and it’s a misunderstanding that it’s the only substance that can result in a DWI charge. If you are accused of driving while impaired after taking an over-the-counter cold medicine, remember that you should take it seriously. Defend yourself, so you can protect your rights and license.