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Can I get a DUI for driving after taking a prescription drug?

When most New Mexico residents hear about someone who is arrested on DUI charges, they assume alcohol is involved. However, you and others may be interested to learn that a DUI doesn’t always mean drunk driving. DUI means “driving under the influence” of drugs or alcohol, after all. You may be surprised to find out that you can face charges for driving after taking a perfectly legal prescription, or even an over-the-counter, medication.

According to the Huffington Post, certain medications should not be taken just before driving. Many are deemed unsafe for their intoxicating qualities, but some can cause other side effects, some of them unanticipated, that can make it dangerous to get behind the wheel. For example, you run the risk of being drowsy, having difficulty concentrating or experiencing dizziness if you drive after taking antihistamines, narcotic painkillers or cold medicine. Some prescription drugs for serious medical conditions may cause brain fog, fainting or jitteriness. If you take an over-the-counter or prescription sleep aid, the sedating effects of the drug can remain in your system for an hour or two after waking up. You may need to take some medications that are usually deemed safe to drive with for a few days until you become accustomed to them or learn the ways you react to the drugs.

It’s not always easy to adjust if you take a long-term medication that affects your safety behind the wheel. It may help to speak with your doctor about dosage amounts, alternate medications or different times of the day to take them.

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