Return To Blog

Denver Criminal Lawyer: Common Prescription & OTC Drugs That Impair Drivers

April 19, 2017

Although many people associate driving under the influence with alcohol, the law states that a driver can be charged with this crime for being under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. It’s important to note that this does not just include illegal drugs—if a substance impairs your ability to drive, even if it’s a prescription or over-the-counter medication, it could get you in trouble with the law. According to Denver criminal lawyer John Buckley, these are the prescription and over-the-counter medicines that frequently impair drivers:

Sleeping Pills

Many people take sleeping pills to help them drift off at night, but you should never take these pills before getting behind the wheel. Sleeping pills are designed to help you gently dose off, which is something that you definitely do not want to do while driving a vehicle. You may even start to nod off without noticing it, which puts other drivers on the road at risk.


Even though marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado, that does not mean you should consume it before operating a vehicle. THC, which is the chemical that produces the high effect, affects the areas of the brain that control movement, judgment, balance, and memory. Because of this, you may find it difficult to drive or make quick decisions when under the influence of marijuana. Learn more about driving while impaired—alcohol and drugs.


Valium is a prescription medication that is often used to treat anxiety disorders. Even though it is issued by a doctor, it can still affect your ability to drive. In fact, some researchers believe that taking ten milligrams of Valium causes the same level of impairment as a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10, which is well above the legal limit.


If you have been prescribed medication to treat your depression, it’s important to wait and see how it makes you feel before ever attempting to drive on it. Some antidepressants can cause many of the same side effects as alcohol, including slurred speech, double vision, and fatigue. Getting behind the wheel while you are experiencing any of these symptoms is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. It may be wise to talk to your doctor to determine if there is another antidepressant you can try that will not produce the same side effects.


You may think nothing of taking an antihistamine and getting into your car to run errands, but you may want to think twice about doing so. Antihistamines can cause extreme drowsiness, which will affect your ability to drive. They can also slow down your reaction time, so you may find it more difficult to quickly brake or move out of the way to avoid colliding with other vehicles.  

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, contact the Law Office of John Buckley. We work tirelessly to defend your rights and ensure you receive the best legal representation possible. Contact John L. Buckley as soon as possible to schedule a legal consultation.