When drivers are arrested for impaired driving, it is most common that they were consuming alcohol before getting in the car. This is why the police will use breath tasks or field sobriety tests to measure their impairment. Breath tests in particular are designed to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
But it’s also important not to assume that alcohol is the only substance a person should not consume before getting in the car. Impairment can also come from medications, which may be surprising to some drivers. If the medication states on the packaging that you should not operate heavy machinery after taking it, your car counts as a piece of heavy machinery. People often think that this means they shouldn’t go to work or use power tools, but it also means that you shouldn’t even drive into the office.
What are the issues?
The issues the medication creates depend on the patient and the specific medication. For example, some medications can mimic dementia. This could lead to severe mental confusion and many driving errors. Elderly individuals who actually have dementia often have to stop driving because they have trouble with their memory or making wise decisions. But someone taking this medication could make the same mistakes even though they normally drive safely.
Another example is if you’re taking prescription painkillers. These are meant simply to help you numb the pain, perhaps after getting surgery, but they can also be used recreationally to get high. Some people who are using them, even for legitimate purposes, may be significantly impaired. Plus, many of these medications only lead to more severe impairment if they are combined with alcohol.
You can see that a DWI arrest may happen for numerous different reasons. If you’re facing charges, be sure you know what legal options you have.