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Can prescription or over-the-counter drugs result in DUI or DWI?

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2023 | DWI Defense |

Driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated is a serious offense in New Jersey. According to data from the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, around 25,000 convictions occur in the state annually for DUI/DWI and related offenses.

While most people associate these charges with alcohol or illegal drugs, they can also apply to the use of prescription and over-the-counter medications that impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Impairment and driving

Some legal medications can have side effects that compromise a person’s ability to drive, sometimes resulting in accidents, injuries and fatalities. Many prescription pain medications, over-the-counter allergy and cold medications, anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs and sleep medications may produce:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Reduced alertness

The effects of these medications can vary from person to person, making it challenging to predict how someone will react to a specific drug. Even if a doctor prescribes these drugs, the responsibility falls on the individual taking them to ensure they do not drive while under the influence.

DUI and DWI charges

In New Jersey, drivers can receive DUI or DWI charges if prescription or over-the-counter medications impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle. To establish these charges, law enforcement officers may conduct field sobriety tests and evaluate a driver’s behavior and physical condition.

Avoid DUI and DWI charges

To prevent DUI or DWI charges related to medications, you should read labels and follow warnings about drowsiness or impairment. Consult with a healthcare professional about the side effects of your medications.

Avoid driving if you are unsure about how a medication may affect you. Find alternative transportation options when taking drugs that impair your driving abilities.