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man taking cold medicine dui warning

Too much cold medicine? That was the excuse that a driver gave the police after being arrested last week in Mesa, Arizona. Spotted by a DPS trooper going the wrong way on U.S. 60, Trent Walker turned around and kept on driving until troopers surrounded and arrested him.

The suspect claimed to have taken too many cold pills, and this caused his bizarre behavior on the road and a resulting cold medicine DUI.

Is it possible? Very much so.

Is it an excuse? No. Arizona laws states that it’s unlawful to drive under the influence of liquor or any drugs. That means your over-the-counter cold remedy, which can cause, among other conditions:

  • Drowsiness
  • Poor coordination
  • Poor concentration
  • Dizziness

If you’re pulled over by a police officer, the fact that it’s not bourbon or vodka that’s affecting you won’t make a difference. Even prescription meds will get you a DUI if they cause you to drive dangerously. The law in pretty much every state is clear: while you can be arrested for having a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, you can also be charged with DUI if the officer finds evidence of impairment of any kind, whether from alcohol, illegal drugs, medications, or other substances.

The reasons for this strictness were made clear in this case, in which several bad decisions were made, endangering a lot of lives on U.S. 60.

By all means, take cold medicine if you need it. But don’t overdose on it (reportedly this man took 15 t0 20 pills, when the recommended daily maximum was eight). And if the medicine has side effects similar to alcohol, don’t drive. There’s no pill that can cure a DUI.

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