When people think of a DWI, they often think about alcohol or illegal drugs. DWIs can also include some prescription medications.

While it is possible to operate a vehicle while taking prescription medication, there are circumstances where a person should not do so.

Consequences of driving while taking prescription medication

The Virginia DMV is strict on its stance regarding medication and driving. It is the patient’s responsibility to learn about his or her medication. If on several medications, it is up to him or her to learn about how those medications interact. If caught driving recklessly or dangerously while under the influence of a prescription drug, the same penalties as drunk driving apply.

Types of medicines that may affect driving ability

There are several side effects to stay mindful of, concludes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, when taking any medication. Any side effect that would compromise your reaction time is a drug that you do not want to take while operating a motor vehicle. This includes any drug that causes drowsiness, slowed movement, blurred vision, low focus or even excitability. When trying a new medication, patients should test how they react before you get behind the wheel. Some medicines have temporary side effects. Patients may feel dizziness for less than an hour. Other medications, however, can cause them to feel unfocused or tired for more than a day.

The medications with the most worrying side effects include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-seizure medication
  • Opioid pain relievers
  • Sleeping pills
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Antipsychotic medication

In times of uncertainty about a medication, read the label.