Am I Driving Under the Influence?

Blurred motion car drivers view traveling through tunnelDUI, Driving Under the Influence, is a defined as the act or crime of driving while affected by alcohol or drugs. “Drunk Driving” is the more commonly used term. While a DUI refers to a driver with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, we tend to forgot that being under the influence can happen with other drugs as well; even prescription and Over The Counter (OTC) drugs.

There are many prescription drugs that when taken as prescribed, can cause you to be legally impaired.   Ingesting multiple prescribed medications at once may also present an additional hazard, as they have the possibility to interact with each other. The introduction of alcohol to a mix of drugs undoubtedly enhances a driver’s vulnerability as well behind the wheel.

Reliable data on how many drivers are impaired by prescription drugs is hard to find, but law enforcement officials agree that the problem is increasing.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), common prescription and OTC drugs that can impair drivers are:
Anxiety Medications
Some Antidepressants
Products containing codeine
Some cold remedies and allergy products
Tranquilizers
Sleeping Pills
Pain Relievers
Diet Pills, “stay awake” drugs, and other medications with stimulants (e.g. caffeine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine)

As a consumer, be sure to carefully read all drug information. If you must take prescription and/or OTC medications and drive, consult with your physician for further direction or alternatives.

Gateway Foundation is here to help educate the community about substance use in any realm, as well as providing treatment for those who may need substance use disorder treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder of any kind, visit recoverygateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673) to learn about treatment options.

Gateway Reminder: 1 out of 3 Driving Fatalities Involve Alcohol

Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers urge adults hopping from one holiday gathering to the next to assign a designated driver for the night. And here’s a sobering reminder why: According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s report on motor vehicle crashes, 10,322 people were killed due to alcohol-impaired driving in 2012, an increase of 6.7 percent from 2011.

Exceeding the national average, in the state of Illinois alcohol-impaired driving fatalities increased 15 percent from 2011 to 2012:

  • In 2011, 918 killed with 278 (30 percent) involving alcohol-impaired driving.
  • In 2012, 956 killed with 321 (34 percent) fatalities involving alcohol-impaired driving.

“Because of drunk driving, thousands of American families will spend the holidays this year without their loved ones,” says Michael Darcy, president, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment. “Driving under the influence of alcohol is never worth the risk of causing harm to oneself, to passengers as well as to other drivers. If you think you or a loved one has a drinking problem, it’s important to address it before the consequences catch up.”

drunk driving, moderate drinking, drinking guidelines, gateway treatment centersInnocently Over-Served

Even conscientious drinkers who limit themselves to one or two alcoholic beverages while out on the town could easily find themselves beyond the legal limit for driving while unintentionally putting their health at risk.

For context, the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans say people who drink should do so in moderation, which means one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men. The guidelines define a “drink” as 12 ounces of regular beer with 5 percent alcohol, 5 ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, which are 40 percent alcohol by volume.

 Drinks served in bars and restaurants often contain more alcohol than people realize. When you consider the alcohol volume, the size of the pour and the size of glass your drink arrives in, there can be a lot of variance,” explains Darcy. “To steer clear of getting behind the wheel intoxicated, make sure a sober driver is on standby to get everyone home safely.”

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