Alcohol and illegal drugs are commonly associated with impaired driving. But driving while impaired from prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause serious or even fatal car accidents. It is also illegal.
Some prescription and nonprescription medicines can have side effects that make driving unsafe for a short time, several hours or even a day. These include drowsiness, blurred vision, dizziness, slowed movements, fainting, difficulty focusing or paying attention, nausea and excitability.
Drivers impaired by multiple substances such as alcohol and drugs or a combination of drugs are three times more likely to be in a fatal traffic accident, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. In addition to imposing criminal and other penalties for driving while impaired by illegal drugs, alcohol and marijuana, Washington law also penalizes driving while impaired by legal drugs.
Drugs that dangerously impair driving include opioid pain relievers, anxiety prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines, antipsychotic drugs, various antidepressants, codeine products, some prescription and over the counter cold and allergy products such as antihistamines, sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, diarrhea medicine and motion sickness medicines. Other dangerous medications include diet pills and other medications containing stimulants such as caffeine, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
Drugs have different effects. Antihistamines and sleep medications, for example, work for longer periods than other drugs and their effects can last until the following day. Antihistamines used for allergy relief can also slow reaction times, impair thinking and cause mild confusion.
States, such as Washington, legalized medical marijuana and cannabidiol. According to the Food and Drug Administration’s review of Epidiolex, CBD products can cause drowsiness, sedation and lethargy. There has been little research how CBD interact with other drugs, food or cosmetics. Accordingly, motorists must be cautious after taking CBD.
Victims of a car accident caused by an impaired driver may be entitled to compensation for their medical treatment, lost wages and other losses. An attorney can help them gather evidence and file a timely personal injury lawsuit.