Ask a trooper: Prescription drugs can cause impaired drivingSend your question E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or mail your question to Duluth News Tribune, Attn: Ask the State Trooper, 424 W. First St., Duluth, MN 55802. You may remain anonymous if you choose.
Q: My wife has taken many prescription drugs in the past 10 years, and she feels that her driving has not been impaired. There are times I don’t feel comfortable riding with her when she is driving a vehicle. I suppose she is like people who feel they are safe drivers with three or four beers in them.
She is taking several prescribed drugs that I don’t consider hard drugs, but they are mind-altering. Should she be driving?
A: Alcohol and hard drugs aren’t the only substances that can land you a DWI conviction. Many of these drugs are routinely prescribed by a doctor, but a person can be charged with a DWI if the medication is
causing impairment and affects the person’s ability to drive a vehicle safely. It does not matter whether or not the person has a prescription. The person still can be as dangerous on our roads as some drivers are under the influence of alcohol.
It is difficult to discern which prescription drugs impair you, and many drivers may have a hard time recognizing if their nervous system, brain or muscular functions are impaired by a given drug. Not all prescription drugs that cause impairment are marked with a caution to not drive or
operate a vehicle.
Taking several medications may be affecting how they react with each other. Have a direct conversation with your wife and her doctor about the effects you see the prescriptions have on her ability to drive safely before something tragic happens that cannot be changed.
Sgt. Mark Baker is a member of the Minnesota State Patrol.