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Most people relate a DUI to driving while drunk, but drivers can get a DUI without having a sip of alcohol. That is because DUI stands for driving under the influence, so anything that negatively influences driving abilities can result in this charge.

Many people take prescription drugs for a variety of issues, but not all of them mix with operating a vehicle. Due to the medications’ side effects, a driver may face a DUI if driving after taking them.

Issues with drugged driving

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost 50% of drivers who died in an accident had drugs in their system. There are many types of medications that can interfere with driving, but opioid use is common, with it affecting around 19.7% of drivers.

Drugged driving is especially a problem among older and younger drivers. Teenagers already have a lack of experience behind the wheel, and the presence of drugs, legal or illegal, further interferes with their abilities. Factors such as slowed metabolism and mental decline alter how medications affect the driving of older adults.

Effects of medications on driving

According to the Food and Drug Administration, both prescription and over-the-counter medications cause reactions that interfere with driving abilities:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Blurred vision
  • Inability to focus
  • Loss of consciousness

Drugged driving is an even bigger problem when people take a combination of drugs, which is common.

How to minimize effects

For most people, not driving is not an option. However, there are ways to minimize the effects of medications so that someone can operate a vehicle safely. Options may include modifying the dose, taking the drug at a different time, changing to a different medication or making lifestyle modifications to replace the need for the drug.