You know you should not drive while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. However, prescribed medications that you take legally to treat medical conditions can also have side effects that impair your driving ability. These can include both prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications.
It is against the law to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by any substance. However, if you obtain and possess the drugs legally under a doctor’s supervision, you might assume they are safe to use in any circumstances and not think about the side effects. Here are some tips for avoiding OWI and other forms of legal trouble on account of your medications:
1. Read the label
The label on the packaging will clearly describe the possible side effects. Look for the following in particular:
- Blurred vision
- Slowed movement
If your medications cause side effects such as these, do not drive while taking them. Often, the label will also contain a warning against driving while on the medication if it can cause detrimental side effects.
2. Ask questions
If you are still not sure of how the medication will affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist questions. Be sure that you clearly understand the instructions and any associated restrictions or limitations.
3. Avoid alcohol
While it is safe to drink while taking some medications, others can react with alcohol, producing unpredictable effects. If you are planning to drive, the safest course of action is to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. This is also true when you are not taking medication.
4. Dispose of old medications properly
A prescription does not authorize you to keep unused portions of controlled substances indefinitely; keeping old medications around may tempt you or other household members to use them improperly. You have a responsibility to dispose of old and unused medications, but you must do so according to governmental regulations.
It may be necessary to take medications for certain conditions. However, you must do so responsibly.