Return To Blog

Denver DUI Attorney Discusses Prescription and OTC Drugs That Can Cause Impairment


August 8, 2018

When most people think about driving while impaired, their mind immediately goes to alcohol—or in our state of Colorado where it is legal, marijuana. But the truth is, impairment comes in other forms, including that which is a result of using prescription and nonprescription medications. To offer some clarification on what types of drugs can cause impairment, Denver DUI attorney John L. Buckley weighs in on what will and won’t cause impairment.
Symptoms of Impairment
There are plenty of medications that will not cause any type of impairment. But some do, particularly those used to treat pain or relieve cold or allergy symptoms. Some medications can have similar effects to drinking alcohol. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, in 2016, more than 20 million people of driving age drove while under the influence of alcohol and nearly 12 million drove while under the influence of other drugs.

These are some of the potential side effects of driving while under the effects of medications:

  • Anxiety
  • Blurred Vision
  • Chest Pain
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Disorientation
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Nausea
Having these side effects while driving can put you at risk for getting pulled over for a DUI. Even if you are using a doctored-ordered prescription medication, this is no excuse for driving while impaired.
If you get pulled over while impaired, read our recent blog post to find out what you should do if you have been arrested for DUI.
The Impairing Effects of Prescription and Nonprescription Medication
It will probably come as a surprise to many people that some medications you pick up at your local drugstore can be just as dangerous as alcohol when it comes to operating a motor vehicle. Avoid getting yourself into trouble with a DUI by doing some research ahead of time.

Here are some common drugs—both prescription and over-the-counter—that can cause serious impairment:

  • Antidepressants: Some antidepressants have sedation qualities that can cause impairment that looks similar to being drunk.
  • Valium: Even a small amount of this popular tranquilizer can cause impairment that is similar to having a blood alcohol concentration that is above the legal limit.
  • Antihistamines: Many of these popular drugs, taken for colds and allergies, cause coordination to become clumsy and reaction times to slow down.
  • Decongestants: Stuffy nose relief can have side effects, including drowsiness and dizziness.
  • Sleeping Pills: You might take these at night, but there can be residual amounts in your body in the morning, causing you to be an impaired driver.
  • Hydrocodone: This common pain reliever has effects similar to opiates, causing impairment similar to using morphine and codeine.
If you have been arrested for driving while impaired, be sure to hire an experienced attorney. At the Law Office of John L. Buckley, we will fight on your behalf to ensure the best possible outcome. Regardless of the charges you are facing, we can help you prepare the best defense. Everyone deserves fair and reliable representation from an expert such as those at the Law Office of John L. Buckley, PC. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.