A police officer may suspect someone of driving under the influence of alcohol by the erratic way the driver operates an automobile. This is because alcoholic drinks can interfere with your cognitive and motor skills. However, prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs like antihistamines may impair your senses in a similar manner.
If you are suffering from a cold or an allergy, you probably do not expect that taking medicine could land you in trouble with the law. The FDA explains that anti-allergy medication could make you seem like a drunk driver if you get behind the wheel.
The effects of antihistamines
While medicines that contain antihistamines can relieve your cold and allergy symptoms, they also tend to induce drowsiness. In this state, you will have trouble concentrating and may even fall asleep. This could be a disaster if you are driving or operating a dangerous machine.
Even if you avoid feeling sleepy, antihistamines can produce effects that mimic drunkenness. You could have problems concentrating or understanding where you are or what you are doing. If a sudden event requires you to slow down or make a turn, the medication in your body may reduce your reaction time and cause an accident.
Mixing your allergy medicine
Even if taking anti-allergy medicine does not make you sleepy, the sedative nature of antihistamines can increase if you ingest other substances along with your medication. Sleep medication and alcohol can mix with the antihistamines in your body and produce fatigue and possible unconsciousness.
It is important to understand how medicine affects you before taking it. The box your medication comes in should have directions for use and warnings about side effects. Your doctor should also explain any possible effects of your medication. This information could give you a good idea of how long to stay away from driving until the side effects wear off.