Cold and flu season is upon us. Many people often find themselves wondering, is it really possible to get a DUI from consuming cold medicine? Simple over the counter cold medicines can provide great relief to those that are down sick with coughing, sneezing, and congestion. However, there are often side effects that can leave you drowsy and judgment-impaired much the same way that alcohol can.
To answer that question, you really need to take a look at what a DUI offense is really all about. DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” Yes, this commonly refers to an individual operating a vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above. However, the law is intended to prevent driving while under the influence of anything that could impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, including drugs. Driving while impaired by drugs is illegal in Mississippi. The fact that a drug was legally obtained and taken is no defense. If the state prosecutors can prove that you were driving while impaired by any over the counter and/or legal drugs, you could potentially be found guilty of driving under the influence.
Many people will take over-the-counter drugs to stop a headache or relieve cold symptoms. Over-the-counter medications are required to have printed warnings about side effects, including driving risks. The bad news is, many people don’t read the warning or they don’t believe it is meant for them. If you don’t understand these warnings, ask a pharmacist for help. However, some people take larger amounts of over-the-counter drugs to get high and feel good. Of course, this is particularly risky because taking any drug in large quantities results in a higher level of impairment, but it is important to know that even the recommended dosage of an over-the-counter drug can reduce your driving skills. Your coordination, decision-making, and reaction time can all be affected.