Can You Get A DUI From Taking Cold Medicines Arizona?

Can You Get A DUI From Taking Cold Medicines Arizona?

Have you ever powered through a head cold with a fistful of decongestants only to question whether or not you should be driving? You're not alone. It's a common question to ask: "Can I get a DUI while on cold medicine or antibiotics in Arizona?" The answer is "Yes." Driving under the influence (DUI) extends far beyond alcohol. Any substance that impairs your judgment or reflexes can land you a DUI in Arizona. This includes seemingly harmless over-the-counter meds and prescription antibiotics.

While many assume taking pills is as innocent as grabbing a coffee, the truth is these medications can seriously affect your driving abilities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that around one-third of DUI arrests involve drugs other than alcohol, highlighting the seriousness of this issue. Let's explore how prescription medications can contribute to DUIs and offer some crucial tips for anyone navigating this tricky territory.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI in Phoenix, Arizona, you should consult with one of Arizona's specialized criminal defense attorneys at Pajerski Law. Attorney Chad Pajerski has over two decades of experience in criminal law. He is one of the few criminal defense attorneys who is a certified specialist in criminal defense law. Our firm only takes on select cases, so our attorney can devote full attention to resolving your case. Contact our firm today for a free consultation and learn how we can help protect your rights.

How Cold Medicine and Antibiotics Impair Driving

Driving requires sharp focus, quick reflexes, and sound judgment. Yet, many medications we readily take for coughs, sniffles, and sore throats contain ingredients that can unexpectedly suppress these skills. In some cases, the impairment caused by certain medicines can even exceed that of moderate alcohol consumption. Here are some ways in which cold medication and antibiotics can turn your car into a potential hazard.

  • OTC Cold Medicines: Over-the-counter (OTC) cold medicines often pack a punch of antihistamines and decongestants. While these ingredients combat stuffy noses and watery eyes, they also come with unwelcome side effects:

  • Drowsiness: Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (found in NyQuil, Tylenol Cold & Flu) are notorious for inducing sleepiness, hindering your ability to react quickly to changing traffic situations. Studies show they can double your brake reaction time, similar to two alcoholic drinks!

  • Dizziness: Decongestants like pseudoephedrine (present in Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold, Robitussin) can throw off your balance and spatial awareness, making lane changes and parking maneuvers treacherous.

  • Impaired Judgment: The combined effects of drowsiness and dizziness can cloud your thinking, impacting your decision-making abilities. You might misjudge distances, take unnecessary risks, or struggle to concentrate on the road.

  • Antibiotics: Even antibiotics, often prescribed for infections like bronchitis or pneumonia, can affect your driving. Some common side effects include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and muscle weakness, all of which can significantly diminish your ability to control your vehicle safely.

  • Other Hidden Dangers: Some cold medicines contain alcohol as an inactive ingredient. While the amount is usually small, it can interact with other medications or amplify the drowsiness caused by other ingredients, further compromising your driving skills. Additionally, certain cough suppressants and pain relievers can cause blurred vision, nausea, and even hallucinations, all equally dangerous to safe driving.

Reducing Risk With Alternatives and Precautions

Remember, driving under the influence of any medication, including cold medicine and antibiotics, is illegal in many places and can result in DUI charges and serious consequences. Before hitting the road, always:

  1. Read the medication label carefully: Look for warnings about drowsiness, dizziness, or driving impairment.
  1. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist: Discuss potential side effects and whether the medication is safe to take while driving.
  1. Consider alternatives: Opt for non-drowsy medications or natural remedies like rest, fluids, and throat lozenges whenever possible.
  1. If drowsy, don't drive: It's as simple as that. No errand or appointment is worth putting yourself and others at risk.

By staying informed and making responsible choices, you can ensure your journey to recovery doesn't involve an unwanted detour through the courthouse. 

What You Need To Know If You're Pulled Over While Taking Meds in Arizona

Getting pulled over while taking prescription medication can be a stressful situation. Here are some important things you should know in case you are stopped and are using your medications while driving.

1. Proof of Prescription is Mandatory: Arizona law requires proof of a valid prescription for any controlled substance in your possession. If the police find medication and you can't prove it's prescribed, you may face drug possession charges.

2.Acceptable Proof:

• Original prescription bottle: Best option, with your name and dosage clearly labeled.

• Copy of the prescription: Ask your doctor for a copy beforehand.

• Doctor's letter: Verifying your prescription and reason for use.

3. Consequences of No Proof:

• Drug possession charges: Severity depends on the medication and amount.

• DUI charges: If the medication impairs your driving ability.

4. Get Legal Help if Charged: Facing criminal charges? Consult an experienced DUI defense attorney. They can:

• Explain your legal options and rights.

• Build a strong defense based on medical records and prescription legitimacy.

• Negotiate with prosecutors or represent you in court.

Additional Tips To Know:

• Always keep medication in original bottles with labels intact.

• Avoid driving if the medication causes drowsiness or other side effects.

• Be polite and cooperative with the police officer.

• Do not admit to anything or discuss your medical history without consulting an attorney.

Remember, staying informed and prepared can help you navigate this situation and protect your rights.

Contact A DUI Defense Attorney in Phoenix

While a head cold or lingering cough might tempt you to reach for quick relief, remember: your health and safety, and those of others on the road, are ultimately in your hands. Driving under the influence of any medication, including seemingly harmless cold remedies and prescription antibiotics, is not just risky; it's illegal in Arizona and many other states. Explore non-drowsy options and natural remedies, or allow yourself time to rest and recover. 

If you face DUI charges in Phoenix, seeking legal counsel from an experienced DUI defense attorney is crucial. Specialized defense attorney Chad Pajerski can defend your rights if you have been charged with a DUI. At Pajerski Law, attorney Chad Pajerski understands the complexities of Arizona's DUI statutes and has a proven track record of building strong defenses for his clients. Contact him today for a confidential free consultation. Let Chad Pajerski and Pajerski Law stand by your side if an unfortunate DUI charge happens. You don't have to face this alone.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Pajerski Law's legal team is licensed to practice law in Arizona. We invite you to contact us, but please be aware that contacting us does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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