Former Prosecutor | Former Insurance Defense Attorney

Click To Call : Free Consultations

Criminal Defense
View Practice Areas

Personal Injury
View Practice Areas

Naples, Florida

Can colds and allergies lead to a DUI?

On Behalf of | Aug 31, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Hay fever, ragweed allergies and colds are as much a part of fall as pumpkin spice lattes and sweaters – and battling cold and allergy symptoms can have you reaching for all kinds of over-the-counter (OTC) medications for relief.

Unfortunately, cold and allergy medications can sometimes lead to charges of driving under the influence, so you need to be cautious.

Can you really get a DUI due to cold or allergy medication?

Most people don’t realize this, but telling a police officer who has pulled you over because you were weaving in traffic that you didn’t realize that your new cold medication would affect you so badly is pretty much the same as admitting that you’re driving drunk. Either way, you’re under the influence of a substance that is impairing your ability to function normally – and that’s illegal.

Many cold and allergy medications contain active ingredients that cause drowsiness, dizziness and a general inability to think clearly. With that in mind, here are some steps you might want to consider:

  1. Carefully read all labels: A lot of OTC medications come in different formulas, so see if you can locate one labeled “non-drowsy” or “daytime” use. Those are less likely to cause impairment.
  2. Take warnings seriously: If a drug’s label does indicate that it can cause drowsiness or confusion or says “do not operate heavy machinery,” pay attention. It would be better to reserve those medications for nighttime use only.
  3. Test your reaction: Even if you’ve taken a certain allergy or cold medication before, your body’s reactions to a drug can change. If there’s a chance that a medication can make you drowsy or disoriented, give a dose a trial run when you don’t have to be anywhere.

If you really need the medication to make it through the day but you recognize that drugged driving isn’t safe, it may be far wiser to ask a co-worker or friend to let you carpool for a few days.

If you do get pulled over on suspicion of impaired driving, don’t discuss your medications with the officer hoping for a break – you’re more likely to end up facing charges. It’s far better to exercise your right to remain silent until you can explore your possible defense options with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.