If you live with allergies, you are probably used to taking medications like Benadryl or Claritin to help control your symptoms. These medications are helpful for most people, but they do have some side effects that could negatively impact your ability to drive.
Diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl and off-brand products, has the side effect of causing significant drowsiness. Many people take this medication at night only, because taking it during the day would make it hard for them to stay awake.
Claritin is a newer medication with the active ingredient loratadine. This medication is a second-generation antihistamine. As a second-generation medication, it is less likely to cause drowsiness, but it is still possible. It may also cause headaches, which could distract you or make it hard to drive safely.
Impairment from common medications could lead to a DUI
When you take over-the-counter or prescription versions of these medications or those like them, there is a risk that you could be impaired enough to be unable to drive safely. Drowsy driving is often just as dangerous as drunk driving.
If an officer sees you driving while on these medications and notes that you’ve missed a stop sign, are weaving in and out of your lane or are committing other reckless acts, then you may be stopped. During that traffic stop, the officer may ask you to take a Breathalyzer test. In some cases, they may seek urine or blood samples rather than a breath sample.
DUIs can be charged when someone is impaired behind the wheel even if they are not impaired by alcohol. If you take field sobriety tests and fail them, the officer may decide that you shouldn’t be driving and could arrest you for driving while impaired.
What can you do to avoid a DUI?
It’s a smart idea to wait to see how medications impact you before you drive. Even though these two drugs and their generics are available over the counter, there is no guarantee that you won’t have side effects or that those side effects won’t significantly impact your ability to drive safely.