Nothing ruins a night out like seeing flashing lights in your rearview mirror. If you have not been drinking, a potential drunk driving charge may not be something you consider.
Alcohol and illegal drugs are not the only substances that can trigger a DUI charge. Depending on the drug and its side effects, your prescriptions could cause problems if you take them before driving. In Maryland, the impaired driving statute includes alcohol and any drug or combination of drugs that could inhibit your ability to drive safely. Just like alcohol is legal to use if you are over 21 years old, prescription medication and over the counter medication are legal to use. However, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle if you are under the influence or impaired by any substance whether prescribed or not. Driving while impaired or under the influence of drugs carries the same penalties as driving under the influence or impaired by alcohol.
Here’s what you should know about how your prescription medication could impact your ability to drive. Not all prescription medications impact your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Officers are primarily concerned with medications with side effects such as:
- Impairment of judgment
- Slowed reaction time
- Difficulty focusing
Typically, medications with these side effects will have warnings on the label that indicate the drug could impact your ability to drive safely. When you see side effects like these or other notifications on your medications, you should find someone to help you get where you need to go, rather than risk driving impaired.
Over-the-counter meds might count, too
Typically over-the-counter medications are not as strong as their prescription counterparts. You might be tempted to ignore the warnings and side effects of your OTC medications, assuming they will not have a significant impact on your ability to drive; this can have costly consequences.
Officers are looking for drivers who are impaired, regardless of the substance. Medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) can make it difficult for you to drive safely and could lead to expensive DUI charges. If you are unsure how a medication will affect your driving, it is better to avoid driving.