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How medication side effects can lead to DUI charges

People who drink and drive are not the only ones who are at risk for DUIs in Massachusetts. People who operate motor vehicles while under the influence of any substance can receive DUI charges. Although it is more common to hear about alcohol-related DUI situations, more individuals are being apprehended for driving while under the influence of medications every day. Certain prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and illegal narcotics can alter a person’s behavior in ways that are similar to a drunk driver. 

Anyone who takes medication should learn about the effects medication can have on their driving behaviors so they can avoid a DUI charge. 

The effects of medication on motorist behavior

Many people take medications to manage their health. However, there are some people who use them recreationally. Medication side effects vary greatly and do not affect everyone the same way. Drivers who use stimulants may become more aggressive and exhibit poor judgment skills. Motorists who use antipsychotic drugs for depression, anxiety and other mood/mental disorders are more likely to experience slower reaction times and diminished alertness. The effects are often more intense when mixing medications and taking them with alcohol. 

Common side effects that indicate impairment 

Common signs of intoxication and impairment that affect both drunk drivers and motorists who are on medications include slurred speech, dizziness, drowsy appearance and behavior, poor judgment, and insomnia. Many of the signs of intoxication and drug side effects are so similar that law enforcement cannot determine the cause of impairment with field sobriety tests. Blood tests are necessary to determine the cause and level of intoxication. 

Ways motorists can avoid DUI charges 

Because of the dangers that come with medication side effects, motorists should question their health care providers when they receive prescriptions. They should learn about the side effects that they may experience and how to manage them. Drivers should also monitor themselves so they know how medications affect their thinking and behaviors. Waiting an hour or two after they take their meds before driving can help them to better assess their situations. 

Medication DUI charges carry the same penalties as alcohol DUI charges. Anyone who is dealing with a DUI charge should speak to an attorney about their situation to learn their options.

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