Illegal drugs and alcohol are not the only substances that may cause an accident. Many drugs that may easily be purchased at your local pharmacy can seriously impair a driver. When a driver takes these substances, even without the intention of “getting high,” and causes an accident, that driver may be liable for damages. An injured victim will be able to file a claim against the driver for his or her negligent and reckless behavior.
What Over-The-Counter Drugs Can Impair Drivers?
You have probably noticed warnings on certain medications that advise against driving while you are taking them. Many consumers underestimate the effect that over-the-counter drugs may have on an individual, but this is a dangerous attitude to have when taking medication.
The following drugs have been known to impair drivers:
Anti-histamines: These drugs are used to treat allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and coughing. They are also commonly found in decongestants and some pain relievers marketed toward relieving cold symptoms. Interestingly, some antihistamines are used in sleep aids. Thus, it is not surprising that many antihistamines cause drowsiness.
Anti-emetics: Anti-emetics are used to treat dizziness, nausea, and vomiting that are caused by motion sickness. Anti-emetics commonly cause drowsiness as well and may slow drivers’ reaction times.
Anti-diarrheal medications: Loperamide is a common ingredient in anti-diarrheal medications. It causes drowsiness.
Sleep aids: Many drivers are still affected by sleep aids they have taken the night before. These substances may linger in the body and may reduce drivers’ reaction times.
Cough syrup: Many cough syrups contain dextromethorphan, or DXM. DXM is a cough suppressant that can cause dizziness. When taken in excess, it may even cause hallucinations.
Proving a Driver was Under the Influence of Over-The-Counter Substances
Unlike cases involving drunk driving, there is no single tool, like a Breathalyzer, that police officers may use on the side of the road to determine if a driver has been taking over-the-counter drugs. However, police officers know how to identify when a driver is impaired. They will look for slurred speech, drowsiness, bloodshot eyes, and other signs of impairment.
Common Types of Accidents Caused by Impaired Driving
Drowsiness caused by over-the-counter medications is one of the most commonly cited reasons for drug-related accidents. When a driver falls asleep at the wheel, the driver may:
- Drift into oncoming traffic
- Cause a rear-end collision
- Hit pedestrians or bicyclists
Impaired motor skills may also cause a driver to fail to react to traffic signals in a timely manner, causing an accident.
If You Were Injured by an Impaired Driver, Contact our Offices Today
At Stein & Shulman, our personal injury attorneys have obtained millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients. Our attorneys know how to prove that a driver was under the influence of prescription drugs and help our clients receive the compensation they deserve. To discuss your claim for free, call (312) 422-0500.