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Driving While Impaired from Prescription Medications

DWI.  Driving While Impaired.  Most often, the phrase triggers thoughts of driving while intoxicated (also DWI), or driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or illegal drugs. But what if driving while impaired describes someone who is operating a motor vehicle while taking perfectly legal prescription medications? Remember the infamous Ambien “sleep-driving” cases?  People taking the extremely popular prescription sleep aide were found in a “zombie-like” state, driving in the middle of the night and getting into automobile accidents that they had no memory of once the drug’s effects dissipated. Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication that is widely used, can cause sedation, dizziness, and distort depth perception. Xanax use has been linked to many “drugged driving” accidents.

Your Denver personal injury attorney knows that many people today take prescription medication for a wide variety of conditions and needs. Some of the medical issues are temporary, such as colds, flu, allergies, muscle spasms, or pain due to a sprain or broken bone. Some of the conditions are chronic, however, and require constant medication, such as heart and cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, anxiety, diabetes, sleep disorders, and various mental health issues. Many people are on more than one medication at a time for more than one medical condition.  

Prescription medications, even when taken properly, cause reactions that can affect a person’s ability to drive. Sedation, blurred vision, improper depth perception, dizziness, nausea, slowed reflexes and reaction time, lack of coordination and distractedness are all potential side effects of medicines used to treat the various conditions noted above. When people experience these reactions in addition to their underlying medical conditions, the combination can be extremely debilitating.

So what do you do if you have to take medications and you need to drive? Your Denver personal injury attorney suggests talking to your physician about all of the medications–including any supplements–you are taking to consider what effect they may have on your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Some options that may be available to mitigate the effects of medications are: (1) adjusting the dose of the medicine; (2) adjusting the timing of the dose (e.g. take the medication at night); (3) change to a different medication that has the same benefit but may not cause the same reaction; and (4) refrain from driving while waiting to see if the reaction lessens over time. However, all of these should be discussed with your medical professional before trying. 

     If none of these options is available, and the medication is essential, then finding an alternative mode of transportation may be necessary. Seeking rides with friends, publics service shuttles, cabs, car sharing services, and of course public transportation such buses, subways and trains are all Eco-friendly and safe ways to travel.

     If you have been involved in an accident where the driver was impaired due to prescription medication use, contact Jordan Levine at Levine Law for a free consultation today.  

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