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Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Medications

Taking multiple medications doesn't mean a motorist cannot operate a motor vehicle, but it does mean there's more planning involved in driving responsibly. For example, prescription drugs for anxiety, some antidepressants and products containing codeine are considered dangerous medications to use while driving. If driving ability is affected because motorists are under the influence of any drug, they may face the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol. Those penalties may include fines, driver's license revocation and jail time.

A physician can reveal the side effects of prescribed medications, particularly as they apply to driving. If drivers have more than one physician prescribing medications, all of them should know about all the drugs being taken, including both prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. Before driving while taking prescription medicine, read all labels and instructions to determine side effects and their relationship to driving. Combinations of medicines can magnify their effects beyond the individual warnings.

For drivers who take prescription medications:

  • Avoid driving if you're not sure how a drug will affect you.
  • Take medications only at prescribed levels and dosages.
  • Do not drive when you feel ill, tired or disoriented.
  • Never combine medication and alcohol while driving.
  • Consult with your doctor or pharmacist about medications that may impair driving.
  • In case of an emergency, carry a list of all medications you are taking, including names and dosages.