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Some Unsuspecting Patients Unaware That Prescription Meds Could Land Them In Jail

"Certain types of medications, including antidepressants, have been shown to increase crash risk by up to 41 percent."

If you or someone you love gets behind the wheel while under the influence of prescription meds, there is a chance you will be arrested.

And if you get in an accident and someone is hurt or killed, the punishment could be much greater if you are found to be under the influence of a doctor-prescribed medication that impairs safe driving.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles California Driver Handbook warns that the use of any drug that impairs your ability to drive safely is illegal, and California Highway Patrol Officer Nathan Baer echoed this point after a deadly crash in the Lake Elsinore area.

“Doctor prescribed medication can impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. The CHP urges patients to consult with their doctors about the side effects and impairments that are caused by prescribed drugs,” Baer said.

While all agencies stress the importance of patients conferring with their doctors about the dangers of driving while under the influence of any prescription medication, the Auto Club of Southern California has launched a website to help people get immediate feedback on the drugs they are taking.

Roadwise Rx is a free website that lets users enter their prescriptions and get instant information on whether the drugs should be avoided while driving.

The website was developed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and is meant to be used for informational purposes only.

Eighty percent of drivers age 65 and older regularly take medications, yet only half have talked to their doctors about how the drugs might impair driving, according to Westways magazine, a publication for Auto Club members.

“Due to chronic medical conditions, many older adults take multiple medications. Certain types of medications, including antidepressants, have been shown to increase crash risk by up to 41 percent,” according to the article.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles California Driver Handbook reminds drivers that the law does not distinguish between prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drugs, so whether it’s alcohol or cold medicine that impairs your driving, you could land in jail -- or worse -- if you’re caught driving under the influence.

“It is your responsibility to know the effects of the medications you take,” the handbook advises.

Constant Comment January 30, 2013 at 03:17 AM
It never hurts to reiterate the things that people are already supposed to know. }~)
shelley January 30, 2013 at 02:18 PM
What abut the "experts/doctors'" responsibility--isn't that part of their job to inform patients of what they are prescribing and why? I know too many seniors who aren't being told, and who have actually been misdiagnosed with "dementia" just to find out that their prescriptions actually interacted negatively...over medicated...drugged out society...and now it's the patient's fault?
TVOR January 30, 2013 at 08:19 PM
Every situation is different but ultimately it is up to the user to take medications in accordance with the instructions and precautions printed on the label.
shelley February 01, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Who says it is "Ultimately up to the user?" Indeed, but it is imperative and LEGAL that the pharmacists and doctors also verbally inform patients. Their not doing it! Some of the doctors (I know of 2 locally) don't even seem to know about the drugs they are prescribing.
Pat February 01, 2013 at 04:11 PM
Shelly...I totally agree with you! My mom is 90 and her "expert doctors" have her on an anti-depressant for what they diagnosed as "alzheimers" along with multiple other meds which make her hands shake! Obviously she's not driving, but I feel doctors make snap judgements when they see elder patients for 5-10 minutes a month and pretty much brush them aside since they are "old and on their way out anyway"! I will be taking her to her next appt!

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