We depend on over-the-counter medications for a number of ailments—for insomnia, for the common cold, and for the headaches that strike in the middle of the workday. Though many of us take over-the-counter medications on a frequent basis, these substances are not always safe to use while driving. In fact, truck drivers who take over-the-counter prescription medications may be held liable both criminally and civilly if they cause an accident.

Civil and criminal liability for accidents

Driving under the influence does not only refer to using alcohol while driving. It may also include the use of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter drugs. Essentially, taking any substance that impairs one’s ability to drive may result in criminal charges. If a truck driver is arrested for driving under the influence, he or she may face jail time, community service, fines, or a combination of the three. If truck drivers are found guilty of driving under the influence, they may lose their jobs.

Civil liability is also a possibility if a truck driver uses over-the-counter drugs and causes an accident. When a civil claim is filed, it seeks to make a victim “whole” again. For example, if a truck driver causes an accident, the victim may seek compensation for medical bills and lost wages. This compensation is called damages, and it is the focus of civil claims. With civil actions, there is no risk of jail time.

A civil claim may be filed against a negligent truck driver regardless of whether criminal charges were filed after a truck accident.

Over-the-counter drugs and accidents

There are dozens of over-the-counter drugs that may cause impaired driving. These include:

  • Antihistamines: Used to treat allergy symptoms, these substances may cause drowsiness while driving.
  • Anti-emetics: These substances are used to treat nausea, dizziness, and vomiting that are caused by motion sickness. These drugs may slow reaction times and cause drowsiness.
  • Anti-diarrheal medications: Many anti-diarrheal medications contain loperamide, which also causes drowsiness.
  • Sleep aids: The effects of sleep aids may linger well into the following day, making morning drives dangerous.
  • Cough syrup: Many cough syrups contain dextromethorphan, or DXM. DXM suppresses coughs and may cause dizziness. If abused, it can even cause a user to hallucinate.

The use of one or all of these substances may impair a truck driver’s ability to drive.

Determining if a truck driver has used over-the-counter drugs

It may be difficult to determine if a truck driver has been using over-the-counter medications. In some cases, the truck driver admits to using. In other cases, the truck driver’s behavior may hint at drug use.

Contact an experienced Chicago truck accident attorney to protect your rights

If you were injured in a truck accident, you need experienced legal counsel to ensure your legal rights are protected. The attorneys at Stein & Shulman have over forty years of experience in personal injury claims and offer a free consultation. To schedule your consultation, call 312-422-0506 today.