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New Mexico Lawyers Serving New Mexico's Legal Needs Since 1997

Prescription and OTC drugs could put you at risk on the road

Undoubtedly, you have seen the words "May Cause Drowsiness" on any number of prescription pill bottles and over-the-counter medications. Other warnings talk about not operating heavy machinery (like a car), and other potential side effects of taking a particular medication.

If you drive while taking these types of medications, you could prove dangerous to yourself and others. Did you know that people often face DUI charges while taking drugs bought in a drug store or legally prescribed by a doctor? This is because the drugs impaired their ability to drive safely.

What types of prescription and OTC drugs could impair driving?

You may find it surprising to hear that the following often prescribed and used medications could make it dangerous for you to drive:

  • The antihistamines you take for your allergies or cold symptoms may make you too drowsy to drive. Even though many antihistamines come in non-drowsy forms, not all of them do. Failing to read the warnings could put you in danger behind the wheel.
  • Many prescription pain medications cause dizziness, drowsiness and disorientation. However, something as simple as ibuprofen could provide you so much relief from pain that you relax too much while driving.
  • Blood pressure medications, especially those classified as beta-blockers, can cause energy draining drops in blood pressure when you begin taking them. You may want to take care during the first weeks you take them to see how your body reacts.
  • You may need to exercise the same caution when you start taking antidepressants. They are notorious for causing patients to feel sluggish and drowsy.
  • Drugs used to relax muscles or reduce anxiety can slow your reaction time and impair your judgment. This is not a safe combination when driving where even a one or two second loss in reaction time could spell disaster. Even so-called "natural" remedies to help with sleep and relaxation may do the same thing.
  • Stimulants such as caffeine pills may give you more energy, but they may also impair your concentration. Many people find it more difficult to pay attention to details while revved up on these and other stimulants.

It may take some time for you to determine whether you will continue to suffer side effects from either OTC or prescription medications that make it dangerous for you to drive.

What happens if someone taking these medications causes an accident?

If another vehicle slams into yours, and you suffer serious injuries, the other driver's use of legal prescribed or OTC medications could have caused the crash. The other person's disregard for the dangers associated with these medications more than likely caused you significant financial losses to medical bills, lost income and other damages.

You may consider filing a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the accident. Successfully proving to the court that your injuries resulted from another person's negligence could result in your receipt of the compensation you deserve.

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