What Medications Can I Legally Drive On?

Dr Handicap - driving

If you take prescription medication, as many people do, have you ever given much thought to driving while taking those medications? Sure, some come with specific warnings not to operate heavy machinery – but for those suffering from certain conditions and taking regular medications, is driving still a no-no?

These are good questions that anyone who regularly takes medication needs to know the answers to. That’s because driving when on certain medications could get you into trouble, and possibly lead to the revocation of driving privileges, even if the medication has been prescribed.

If you’re wondering “What medications can I legally drive on?”, here’s what you need to know.

Disabled Driving Medications: Be Wary of Side Effects

For the most part, many medications are safe to take and drive with. That’s because many won’t impact your ability to drive, whether they’re prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Yet some medications can and do have side effects that can lead to danger on the road (for example, side effects that affect your reaction time). Some medication effects impact you for only a short time, while others may last for hours or even days.

If you are prescribed medications by your doctor, it’s a good idea to talk to them about how these may impact your ability to operate a vehicle. This is particularly important if you have any medications that cause side effects such as:

  • Excitability
  • Fainting
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Sleepiness
  • Drowsiness
  • Inability to focus
  • Slowed movement
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
Dr Handicap - prescription medications

Image by Freestocks on Unsplash: What meds can you not drive on? You should ask your doctor about the side effects of your medications.

What Medications Can You Not Drive On?

For many people with disabled parking permits, the physical disabilities that make them eligible may also involve taking medication daily. Some common drugs that can have dangerous side effects for people operating a vehicle include:

  • Muscle relaxers
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiety drugs
  • Sleeping pills
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Opioids
  • Stimulant medications
  • Some CBD-based medications

If you have a physical ailment that you take medication for, but also have a disabled parking permit to help, make sure you know what you’re taking and whether it can impact your ability to operate a vehicle.

Can You Get a DUI for Driving on Legal Drugs?

There are legal medications that can still lead to a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) if you’re pulled over while operating your vehicle after having taken them.

“Under the influence” refers to your ability to safely operate a vehicle. In order to be charged with a DUI, you must be driving a vehicle on a public roadway and under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances, including prescription drugs.

It’s important to understand that under the law, drug-related DUI penalties for a medication you’ve been prescribed legally are the same as if you were taking illegal drugs or drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel. These penalties depend on the state in which you live.

Dr Handicap - driving

Image by Liam Pozz on Unsplash: Can you drive while taking medication? There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer!

How Can You Avoid Impaired Driving?

It is possible to take prescribed medications and drive safely. A doctor or pharmacist can talk to you about the adverse effects of the medications you are on and potential issues you may run into, including the ability to safely drive a car.

If you take a drug that can impair your ability to drive safely, it may be possible to have your dose adjusted or to change the time you take the medication so the side effects aren’t as significant, or to change the medicine altogether and replace it with one that has fewer side effects.

You should also keep these tips in mind per the FDA:

  • Follow directions as prescribed for the medications you take
  • Use medications only as directed
  • Tell your health care provider if you are taking medications that produce reactions
  • Don’t stop taking medications unless you are directed to do so

What Else Can You Do?

It’s important to always monitor yourself when you get behind the wheel. Recognize how your body may react to the medications you take and keep track of how you feel. You may even want to make a list of any side effects you experience as a result of the medication, and when you experience them.

You should always carry a medication list with you in case of emergencies as well. Include the name of the drug and dosages.

If you’re unsure about the safety of driving on your medications, discuss it with your doctor. Until then, have someone else drive you safely where you need to go.

Featured image by William Krause on Unsplash