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Even Doctor-Approved Drugs Can Trigger A DUI

Nearly half of Americans take at least one prescription drug, according to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2004 ( Not all of those medications cause impairment in drivers but many of them are just as dangerous as illicit drugs or cocktails.

In Illinois, as in any state, driving under the influence of a prescription drug can get you a DUI conviction just as if you were out binge drinking.

Pain medications and muscle relaxants are probably the biggest culprits of impaired driving. But other general drug categories that might not mix well with driving include those used to alleviate panic attacks, anti-depressives, anti-anxiety drugs and sleep aids.

Here are a few common prescription drugs (with relevant side effects, some more prevalent than others) you may want to avoid before cruising Chicago's streets and highways:

  1. Valium - drowsiness, impaired motor functions, impaired coordination, impaired balance, dizziness, fatigue   
  2. Ambien - dizziness, drowsiness, "drugged" feeling, sluggishness          
  3. Vicodin - feeling anxious, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, feeling light-headed, fainting, confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior, seizure
  4. Percocet - dizziness, light-headedness, sedation
  5. OxyContin (Oxycodone) - dizziness, tired feeling, seizure, confusion, severe weakness, feeling light-headed, fainting
  6. Darvocet - feeling light-headed, fainting, confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior, seizure, feeling dizzy or drowsy, blurred vision
  7. Xanax - drowsiness, dizziness, feeling irritable, trouble concentrating, blurred vision, unusual risk-taking behavior, no fear of danger, hostility, hallucinations, feeling light-headed, fainting, seizure 

Over-the-counter medications also can cause drivers to be too impaired, including Dimetapp (used for coughs and colds) and Benadryl (allergy medicine). Just because you can buy a medication without a prescription doesn't mean it can't render you too impaired to drive.

Medicines bought over-the-counter, as well as prescription drugs, usually come with a warning if they potentially can cause impairment. The bottom line is that not even the best Illinois DUI attorney can get your charges dropped just because the substance in question was legally prescribed.