People who would never dream of drinking and driving can sometimes be careless about drugged driving. We’re not talking about illicit drugs. There are many legal substances – including over-the-counter medications – which can make one unfit to drive. And if you’re caught driving while impaired by one of them, you will get a DUI.
Here’s the relevant section of the Criminal Code:
Every one commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle … or has the care or control of a motor vehicle … while the person’s ability to operate the vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment is impaired by alcohol or a drug.”
Note that the word is “drug.” The Code doesn’t make a distinction between marijuana, heroin, and NyQuil.
Some prescription drugs that can easily result in an impaired driving arrest:
- Opiates such as morphine and codeine.
- Antihistamines. Many of these make you drowsy, so it’s important to check the label and make sure you’re taking the non-drowsy type. Most allergy medications, such as Benadryl and Claritin, use antihimstamines. So to over-the-counter cold remedies, especially “nighttime” ones.
- Anti-anxiety drugs, including benzodiazepines (Xanax and Valium) have a calming effect, but they can cause sleepiness, dizziness, impaired thinking and vision, and confusion. It’s the last thing you need if you’re piloting a machine down the road at 100 km/h.
Sometimes naïve drivers think they can pull out their prescription and get a free pass from the police officer. But the police are there to take impaired drivers off the roads. If you are prescribed any kind of drug, ask your doctor if it’s safe to drive while taking it. And follow the advice. If you cause a collision resulting in injury, death, financial pain and heartache, it doesn’t matter whether or not you had a prescription.