As we have pointed out time and again on our blog, driving while intoxicated is considered a serious crime here in Virginia. Most people not only find an arrest embarrassing, it can also lead to serious charges that could lead to jail time, steep fines and the possibility of losing your license.
When most people think of driving under the influence, however, they envision someone who is impaired by alcohol. Few people realize that alcohol isn't the only thing that can impair our ability to drive. So can prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Just because the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and other federal authorities say prescription and over-the-counter medications are safe for use doesn't mean they can't cause:
- Blurred vision
- Slow reaction time
- Inability to focus one's attention
- Loss of consciousness
Just like alcohol can.
Even if a single medication doesn't have any of these side effects, combining medications, explains the FDA, can. And as we get older, the risk of driving while impaired due to a prescription or over-the-counter medication can increase because of changes in our bodies.
The law in Virginia
It's important to understand that § 18.2-266 from the Code of Virginia clearly states that driving under the influence of "any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug of whatsoever nature, or any combination of such drugs" can result in a DWI. Just because your impairment was the result of a prescription or over-the-counter medication, doesn't mean you should take the charges lightly. There is no shame in contacting a lawyer who may be able to help you avoid a conviction that could affect you for the rest of your life.