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Prescription drugs may not be one of the usual suspects when it comes to DUI causes, but drivers can still be impaired enough by medicine to be unsafe on the road. Case-in-point, the story of a Hayden School District superintendent whose mixture of pain medicine and muscle relaxers led to her crash on snowy Colorado Highway 131 north of Yampa. An officer noticed her truck stuck around 5 or 10 feet from the road in a snow bank, and attempted to help. Noticing her glassy, bloodshot eyes, he suspected that she may have been drinking, which she denied, citing medication instead. Many common medicines, including over-the-counter ones, dull essential motor skills and distort reaction times. These drugs can lead to an unsafe driving environment and, if an officer takes notice, a DUI. Here are some common medications to look out for:
  • Antidepressants: The sedating effects of some antidepressants can actually cause similar effects to alcohol in a driver.
  • Valium: the Hollywood drug, in certain dosages, can cause behavior similar to that of a person with a blood alcohol concentration of .10 percent, which is above Colorado’s legal BAC limit.
  • Antihistamines: Many of these slow reaction time and blunt coordination.
  • Decongestants: These can cause drowsiness, anxiety and dizziness. They are often available over the counter.
  • Sleeping Pills: Even if taken late at night, the residual effects can impair morning drivers.
  • Hydrocodone: This popular pain medication is similar to opiates and can cause impairment similar to morphine and codeine.
DUI Matters – Denver Drunk Driving Lawyers

While Mixing Medications, Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery!

Prescription drugs may not be among the usual suspects when it comes to causes of driving under the influence (DUI). However, they can still significantly impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. A recent incident involving a Hayden School District superintendent serves as a compelling example of the potential dangers of driving under the influence of medication. In this case, a combination of pain medicine and muscle relaxers resulted in a crash on snowy Colorado Highway 131 north of Tampa.

The incident unfolded when an officer came across the superintendent’s truck stuck in a snowbank a mere 5 to 10 feet from the road. Attempting to assist, the officer noticed the driver’s glassy, bloodshot eyes, which raised suspicions of potential alcohol impairment. However, the driver denied consuming alcohol, instead attributing her condition to medication.

It is essential to recognize that various common medications, including some available over-the-counter, can dull essential motor skills and distort reaction times, ultimately contributing to an unsafe driving environment. Suppose a law enforcement officer observes signs of impairment, even when alcohol is not involved. In that case, it can lead to a DUI charge.

Here are some commonly prescribed or readily available medications that can impair a driver’s abilities:

  1. Antidepressants: Some antidepressants have sedating effects that can mimic the impact of alcohol on a driver’s performance.
  2. Valium: In certain dosages, Valium can induce behavior similar to that of an individual with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 percent, which exceeds Colorado’s legal BAC limit for driving.
  3. Antihistamines: Many antihistamines slow reaction times and hinder coordination.
  4. Decongestants: These medications can cause drowsiness, anxiety, and dizziness, and they are often available over the counter.
  5. Sleeping Pills: Even when taken at night, residual effects from sleeping pills can impair drivers the next morning.
  6. Hydrocodone: This widely used pain medication shares similarities with opiates and can result in impairment akin to that induced by morphine and codeine.

The case of the Hayden School District superintendent highlights the importance of understanding the potential risks associated with prescription and over-the-counter medications. Drivers must be aware that impairment can arise from various sources, not just alcohol or illegal drugs.

Driving under the influence of prescription medication is a serious offense, and law enforcement officers are trained to recognize signs of impairment regardless of the substance involved. When prescription or over-the-counter medications affect an individual’s ability to drive safely, they can face legal consequences, including DUI charges.

In such situations, seeking legal representation from professionals with expertise in alcohol and drug-related driving offenses is crucial. Thomas & Ahnell, LLC is a reputable law firm that specializes in handling alcohol and drug-related DUI cases in Colorado. Their dedicated legal team is well-equipped to provide guidance and expert representation to individuals facing DUI charges stemming from prescription medication use.’

Ultimately, drivers must exercise responsibility and make informed choices when taking medication and getting behind the wheel. It is essential to prioritize safety on the road for one’s well-being and the safety of others on the highway. Being aware of the potential effects of medication and adhering to prescribed dosages and warnings can help prevent impaired driving incidents and their legal consequences.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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