Drugged driving is a growing problem on Indiana roads. From 2016 through 2018, drugged driving arrests rose from 8 to 14 percent of all Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) arrests. Part of the problem is that many Indiana residents don’t realize that prescription medication can impair their ability to drive–and that it’s illegal to drive impaired even while under the influence of legally-obtained prescription drugs.
Here are three types of legal drugs that may dangerously impair your driving abilities and put you at risk for an OWI arrest.
When the sniffing and wheezing of hay fever hits, you’re likely to reach for antihistamine medication without a second thought. But even though antihistamines provide much-needed relief, they can also cause mental confusion, delay your reaction times, and make you feel sleepy. Such side effects can put you and others in danger if you’re behind the wheel. If you drive in Indiana while impaired by these substances, you can face criminal charges.
Approximately 16.7 percent of Americans take psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants such as Zoloft or Prozac, or anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax or Valium. Although it’s largely safe to drive when taking these drugs, you may nevertheless run into legal trouble if you drive while mentally impaired by a psychiatric drug.
For example, people who take antidepressants may suffer from dizziness, blurred vision, dulled alertness, and may have more difficulty reacting when driving. Motorists driving under the influence of sedative and tranquilizers may have trouble maintaining lane position, drive erratically, or suffer from memory problems. If you get behind the wheel under these conditions, you may find yourself in a crash–or under arrest.
Motorists under the influence of prescription pain medication must be careful because these medicines have varying effects, depending on their form and potency. Some people might function perfectly normally while taking these drugs. Others may feel confused, sleepy, lightheaded, or develop blurry vision. Recent studies suggest a link between driving under the influence of opioids and a higher risk of car crashes.
When on prescription medication, reduce the chance of getting into legal trouble by adhering to your prescribed dosage and avoiding getting behind the while when you have symptoms that could affect your driving.