While Mixing Medications, Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery!


Prescription drugs may not be one of the usual suspects when it comes to DUI causes, but drivers can still be impaired enough by medicine to be unsafe on the road. Case-in-point, the story of a Hayden School District superintendent whose mixture of pain medicine and muscle relaxers led to her crash on snowy Colorado Highway 131 north of Yampa.

An officer noticed her truck stuck around 5 or 10 feet from the road in a snow bank, and attempted to help. Noticing her glassy, bloodshot eyes, he suspected that she may have been drinking, which she denied, citing medication instead.

Many common medicines, including over-the-counter ones, dull essential motor skills and distort reaction times. These drugs can lead to an unsafe driving environment and, if an officer takes notice, a DUI.

Here are some common medications to look out for:

  • Antidepressants: The sedating effects of some antidepressants can actually cause similar effects to alcohol in a driver.
  • Valium: the Hollywood drug, in certain dosages, can cause behavior similar to that of a person with a blood alcohol concentration of .10 percent, which is above Colorado’s legal BAC limit.
  • Antihistamines: Many of these slow reaction time and blunt coordination.
  • Decongestants: These can cause drowsiness, anxiety and dizziness. They are often available over the counter.
  • Sleeping Pills: Even if taken late at night, the residual effects can impair morning drivers.
  • Hydrocodone: This popular pain medication is similar to opiates and can cause impairment similar to morphine and codeine.

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