People who live a law-abiding lifestyle and would never consider getting behind the wheel after a single drink can be shocked to find themselves facing DUI charges. Many do not realize that taking a common, legally prescribed medication before driving can potentially bring the full range of DUI penalties.
According to Georgia law, one may not operate a vehicle after taking medication that makes your driving less safe than it would be without the medication. To get a conviction, a prosecutor should show beyond a reasonable doubt the driver took medication that adversely affected driving safety. This is true even if you did not know the medication would affect you this way.
What to look out for
Common medications that can impair driving include painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, sleeping aids and various types of antidepressants. This is by no means an exclusive list; there are many additional meds that can induce such side effects as drowsiness, vertigo, blurry vision, delayed reaction and lack of physical coordination. Some of them include over-the-counter remedies such as cold and cough meds.
To make the issue even more complicated, some people experience rare side effects that are not typical for a particular substance. Others may only develop side effects due to a combination of drugs, a change in dosage and even a switch to a different drug manufacturer. Some medications can produce strong side effects if one consumes even a minute quantity of alcohol.
Ask your doctor
Whether receiving a new prescription or an adjustment to your current regimen, discuss the potential effects with your doctor, and ask about driving safety. Also, inquire how much time can pass after taking the medicine before you are able to drive safely. Do not assume if the doctor does not raise the issue, you are in the clear. Like everyone else, doctors make mistakes and may forget to discuss this important topic. In addition, avoiding driving before you know the extent of the effects of a new medicine or formulation can also help prevent an undesirable situation.