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Prescription drug use can cause a car accident

Impaired driving in Illinois is usually considered as driving while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. However, taking prescription drugs, while considered routine and proper, may also lead to personal injury in an auto accident.

Most drivers are aware that the legal limit for alcohol across the country is 0.08 percent BAC. However, it is also illegal to drive after taking certain drugs. For example, drivers can operate a vehicle after ingesting a Schedule I controlled substance such as heroin or methamphetamine.

However, a motorist may unsafely drive under the influence of prescription drugs. It may not necessarily illegal to drive after taking these substances. However, these drugs may jeopardize the ability to safely operate a vehicle.

Painkillers containing oxycodone are known to be a potential problem for drivers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, also found that other prescription drugs may impair driving.

These include prescription drugs taken for anxiety, certain antidepressants, drugs containing codeine, some cold and allergy drugs, tranquilizers and sleeping pills. The FDA also cited certain diet pills, drugs marketed to keep users awake and medications containing stimulants such as caffeine, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

Impairment may be compounded when these drugs are combined with each other or with alcohol or inhalants. Abusing these drugs or not taking them as directed also increases this problem.

These drugs have varying effects on drivers who may process chemicals differently. Therefore, it is important to follow the instructions that accompany the prescription and not drive if the motorist feels any effect after taking a drug.

Any impairment that slows reaction may be deadly. It typically takes a motorist three-quarters of a second to recognize danger and another three-quarters of a second to timely react. A vehicle driving at 55 mph travels 120 feet in 1.5 seconds.

A car accident victim may be entitled to compensation for a collision caused by another impaired motorist who is driving unsafely or even illegally on prescription drugs. An attorney can help ensure that evidence is located and that their rights can be pursued in a legal action.

Source: Gaylord Herald Times, "Some prescription drugs increase risk of driving disasters," Steve Zucker, July 17, 2017

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