Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

RX and Driving

Kris-NYKKris-NY Posts: 2,207
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Pain Medications
I know we've talked about this one before but I wanted to share something I heard last night. Had to go to a HS senior driving meeting so that my son can drive to school. The 1 1/2 presentation was given by the DA's office. The heart of the presentation was about making poor decisions when driving.

They covered the basics like drinking, taking drugs and texting. What I thought was interesting was about the prescription meds.

The Nassau County, New York Assistant District Attorney said that if you are taking prescription medications that affect your performance and are involved in an accident you will be arrested and charged with DUI at the least. No exceptions!!

I know we have talked about how you can "adjust" to your meds and function fine. Just wanted to share this piece of information.


  • So...what are the overall rules. I find that one percocet 5 I am awake and alert while still managing my pain. I drive after taking that but not while taking muscle relaxers. I also am going to have to drive taking neurontin because that is a everyday drug.

    What is everyone's thoughts on this?

    To the Nassau county DA...no surprise there. They are nuts in long island with tickets. I think you should not get a DUI if you are not intoxicated..if you are completely out of it then that is different. BUT how do they draw the line? People get in accidents everyday while not on meds..why should we be treated any differently just because we need to take pain meds..if we are under control.

  • I am anxious to read the thread.

    When I started with my lumbar pain in 2006-2007 and the same vicoden (only lower dose) the bottle said use caution when operation a motor vehicle (or something to that effect). Now it says "Do not drive". So I don't- right away. If I have to take a pill I wait 2-3 hours before driving. I try to take my meds only after 5 pm and I know I am not going to need to drive any where for my job as well. The vicoden is 10 mg and I take it with a 10 mg flexerile some times I do feel it for a little bit (not often any more) it kind of depends on where my pain level is at, how tired I am and how hungry I am.

    I am deathly afraid of getting a dui since my job involves using my car and driving a lot.


  • You can go to your states web site and find what is the legal limits on anything in your state. The narcotic issue is not really in place to catch honest chronic pain patients but rather to catch people who use these as drugs to get high. The problem is they can't tell the difference for the most part. But if you are in a accident and look wasted and stumbling about then sure your going to get tested. For those of you whom have balance issues, most DMV's and your doctor can get you the proper information making it clear you have a balance issue.

    As far as them testing you for drugs Nuerotin and most muscles relaxers are not going to fit in the panel screen. While you may not want to drive on them for what they do to you, it is not illegal. But as with everything it most important to use caution with any medicine you take till you know the effect it has on you.
  • Just to clarify I do drive and I take neurontin in very high doses. I won't drive right after taking in because that is usually when I am in the most pain and also when it makes me a little fuzzy. Do I know if it affects my performance? NO !! But like most of us I cannot work and live where I do without driving. It would take a MAJOR life style change to not drive. And if that was the choice I might stop the meds and live in pain - not sure which is worse - driving in pain or driving on meds.

    So I wanted to be clear that I don't judge anyone but I wanted to share this info. To me the real question is "how do we know if we are affected?" I wonder if there is some way to get our reflexes tested? I'm sure no one would want to "certify" ability but it would be nice to know how we look in someone else's eyes.
  • Thanks!
    William Garza
    Spine-Health Mod

    Welcome to Spine-Health

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    There isn't (at least , generally available) a device like the breathe analyzer to determine the level of alcohol in your bloodstream. ( but I have also read that newer breathalyzers have been developed that can detect the actual level of a controlled substance in a person's body. )

    In the 35+ years dealing with spinal problems, I know I have driven while taking pain medications. In my earlier days, I had an hour commute to work, so I wouldn't take any medication at least 1/2 hour into the trip. But then, that just had me working while under the influence.

    Many times after working long hours, I took medications before the drive home.

    I never gave it too much thought, I always figured I was in total control.

    Now, after years on the Oxycontins/Oxycodone and other medications, I realize some of my limits.
    Does that mean, I haven't driven while taking medications? No. The difference now, is that when I start a new medication and/or dosage, I wait a couple of days to see how I am going to react to it.

    Now, instead of the hour commute, I have a 10 minute commute. Does that change anything?
    Probably not.

    But I know so many of us, really do not have a choice. We need to get to A - Work B - Therapy C - Doctors ... If we can not get rides,or other mass transit, how do we get to where we need to be?

    This is a difficult topic. Every time it has been brought up in the past, it ran the same way. It seems like some states (according to members) do not have any restrictions regarding driving while taking prescription medications..

    In the State of Connecticut it is a criminal offense to be operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol/and or drugs. That extends not only to prescription drugs, but many over the counter drugs such as Benadryl and other antihistamines.

    Right now there are 15 states that have very strict rules regarding driving with any amount of an impairing drug.

    This is a very tough situation to deal with. I do believe more and more attention will be directed this way because of the use of OTC and prescription medications.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • The burden is proving that the med was affecting your performance at the time of your accident, which is their burden. Unless they make it illegal to drive under the unfluence of a specific medication, they need to somehow prove you are impaired. (innocent until proven guilty, remember?)

    I do worry about this. I do not drive if I'm feeling wonky, no matter what the state of medications is. But when I am feeling fine, I think- if there is an accident, this would turn into an issue. I have cut way back on my driving. I don't drive long distances very often and adjust my meds accordingly. But those on long-term meds know that not taking meds impairs you as much as taking them does.

  • It is not illegal to drive while taking prescription meds, But if you are involved in a accident, or are driving erractly(spelling), and get stopped by the police, it is a judgement call by the officer if you are impaired.
    No breath test will reveal meds, But if you are injured they can transport you to the hospital, where you will have a blood test and the meds will be found, now you can be ticketed for a DUI, and you also have to prove the doctor prescribed them.
    OTC meds fall in the same category, as a judgement call.
    It is also a federal law you cannot operate a commerical vehicle while taking any kind of narotic med.
    In illinois there are 5 different ways that you can get a DUI.
    A officer can give you a DUI, if in his judgement you are impaired by giving you a field soberity test and you fail.
    Granted the police have to prove it, but is it worth your time and money spent going to court, to state your case.
    Most people have drove after taking meds, or downing some cough syrup, and have not thought anything of it. But like i tell my kids you could be doing everything right and all you need is for some person to run a stop-light and hit you, and while the police have you there they are gonna check you out.
    I think some of the laws are to extreme, but until someone changes them, they are the laws.
    Yes i do drive on meds, but use your own good judgement.
  • In Florida you can easily get a DUI for OTC or prescription medication. If the officer can articulate that you acted under the influence, they can demand you have a blood test. If you refuse, and it states this on the bottom of the front of our licenses, your license will be immediately suspended.

    I lost a brother to a drunk, and I've been hit by 2 drunks, so no sympathy here in so far as "under the influence." Here is the scary part. What level would be deemed by a court, judge, doctor as deciding said person *is* under the influence? I bring that forward because some folks take a small amount of narcotics, so the blood levels will be low, but some are on much much more and don't even get sleepy nevermind 'under the influence' as they aren't affected. Lets say I'm a light weight and my levels are really low - so does that mean I will get off cuz I don't make the threshold? Or do they have levels that adjust similar to alcohol?

    Me personally, my narcotics are 1 every 4 hours as needed for pain, so of course I can go days without taking any, and other days might be 1 every 4 hours. Some here don't have that option and need them constantly. I think the nuts and berries here is each of us has to take said medication for a few days to see if it does affect us, and to what degree. Then just like deciding if you can eat and have a beer and be safe, or not..you know what is safe for you.

    Like Tamtam said, a lot of the nerve pain medications won't show on the tox screen. But I know for instance with me, 80% of the time I have to remind myself *if* I took my Lyrica as I feel no affects short of my nerves liking me, other days like today, 30 minutes after I took it, I had to lay down for a nap. So that's another thing to consider, are your reactions consistent, or do you have variable physiological results? Deep, deep topic. [(

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • And of course there is your on conscience as well- because if something happened, even if you weren't arrested, would you always have that voice saying "could I have avoided it if I was not on meds? Should I have had someone else drive?"

    I sometimes am more impaired by the exhaustion and pain than the meds.
Sign In or Register to comment.