Common cold and allergy medications and drunk driving charges

On Behalf of | May 13, 2022 | DWI

Spring and early summer are known for many wonderful things, but that doesn’t include allergy season and the onset of “summer colds.” When the sniffles start, you may be hard-pressed to tell the difference between symptoms caused by a virus and those caused by pollen – but the cure is much the same: over-the-counter medication.

Unfortunately, that can lead to another sort of distress. An unwanted drunk driving charge can result.

Why could these medications lead to charges?

Essentially, the law doesn’t draw that much of a distinction between legal intoxicants (like alcohol, prescription painkillers or over-the-counter remedies for whatever ails you) and illegal intoxicants (like street drugs) when it comes to charges of impaired driving. Cold and allergy drugs can have a profound effect on someone’s ability to function behind the wheel.

Most of the cold and allergy medications you can buy without a prescription (and even those that require one) contain antihistamines to control runny noses, coughs and other symptoms. The three most common are:

  • Diphenhydramine
  • Chlorpheniramine maleate
  • Doxylamine succinate

All three can cause drowsiness, and that can cause you to make mistakes behind the wheel that attract the attention of the police. Your cold and allergies – plus the drowsiness caused by your medication – can make you appear drunk or drugged.

If the combination of your virus or allergies and the medication you took to relieve the symptoms left you tangled up in a legal mess, it’s time to explore your options for a defense. A simple mistake may have resulted in a charge of driving while impaired (DWI), and that shouldn’t affect the rest of your life.

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