| Added On March 11, 2010
When most of us hear the term “driving under the influence”, we immediately picture someone that has been drinking alcohol to the point of intoxication. While that is certainly one form of driving under the influence, there are others as well. You may even realize that someone is considered to be driving under the influence if they have been using marijuana or other illegal drugs as well. What you may not know though is that you can be considered to be driving under the influence if you are using prescription drugs as well. Even if the laws of your particular state are lagging behind on this issue, it is still a huge public health concern across the nation. Most drivers are under the misperception that if a physician has prescribed something for them then they are safe to drive while using it. Not true.
The problem with prescription drugs is essentially the same problem as illegal drugs. Any drug that enters your blood stream and acts on your brain can impair your motor skills, reaction time and your judgment. Studies have shown that the average person must acknowledge and react to an emergency situation on the road within two seconds if they hope to avoid an accident. If your reaction time has been slowed down due to prescription drugs in your system, then you may lose your chance to react and prevent an accident. A 2007 survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 16 percent of week-end, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Of that 16 percent, a full 30 percent tested positive for prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Despite warnings on prescription drug bottles warning against driving or operating machinery while taking the drugs, people continue to operate vehicles.
Prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines and opiate analgesics act on your brain and produce a sedative effect. They are frequently prescribed to treat anxiety or panic attacks. Pain relievers and muscle relaxants can also impair your driving ability. Pain relievers slow down your mental reaction time and muscle relaxants can slow down your physical reaction time. Alone, these prescription drugs can be taken safely. Taken by someone operating a vehicle they can be deadly. Anything that lessens your ability to react to an emergency on the road or that clouds your judgment is a danger to you and everyone else on the road. Even over-the-counter drugs such as antihistamines or cough syrup can make you drowsy and less able to react to changing road conditions. The bottom line is that the next time your doctor prescribes you a medication, it is imperative that you actually read the warnings that come with the medication. If the bottle says not to drive while taking the medication, then don’t drive. You may be saving not just your own life, but someone else’s life that is out on the road with you.
If you have been the victim of a car accident and believe that impaired driving played a part in the accident, contact personal injury attorney Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates for an evaluation of your case at his toll-free number 1-800-300-0001 or online at www.ledgerlaw.com