You are probably an attentive and responsible person who would never get behind the wheel after drinking too much. It can come as a surprise, then, to learn that you can still receive a DWI charge even if you never drink alcohol before driving. There are certain medications with effects that satisfy North Carolina’s definition of an intoxicating substance, and that can get you in trouble with the law.
The definition of driving while intoxicated
North Carolina’s laws concerning driving while intoxicated do not just apply to alcohol and illegal drugs. Someone can receive criminal charges for intoxicated driving if they drive after consuming any type of impairing substance.
An impairing substance is anything that negatively impacts your ability to drive safely. Thus, it could be any substance that slows your reaction time, impairs your vision, makes you drowsy or dizzy, or alters your state of mind to the point where you would have difficulty making quick decisions and avoiding dangerous behavior while driving.
It is impossible to come up with an exhaustive list of medications that could land you a DWI, because everyone’s bodies react differently to chemical substances. A medication could cause extreme drowsiness in one person while having no adverse effects on another person.
Another danger comes from the effect of mixing two or more medications. Occasionally two substances which are harmless on their own can create unexpected side effects when taken together.
Whenever possible, it’s best to avoid driving for a time when taking new medication, so that you can get a sense of how your body reacts to it. That way you can avoid running the risk of harming yourself and others, and of potentially costly DWI charges.