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Could your cough medicine lead to a DWI?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2022 | DWI

For most people, getting a cold is an annoyance that only requires a little cough medicine to help them get through the day. What they may not know is that taking that medicine and getting behind the wheel of their vehicle can be dangerous.

Cough and cold medicines, especially versions designed to help you sleep at night, can cause side effects that have a significant impact on your ability to drive safely. Here are a few examples and how they could put you at risk.


Drowsiness is a common side effect of cold medications. If they contain antihistamines, for example, you may feel tired shortly after taking the medication. Drowsiness might not lead to you falling asleep behind the wheel, but it could. Keep that in mind and know when it’s unsafe to drive.


Whether from fatigue from your cold or the decongestants in your medication, you may be feeling dizzy after taking cold and cough drugs. If you’re dizzy, you may not pay close attention to the road or may not see clearly, putting you at risk of crashing.

Nausea or vomiting

Some medications can cause people to feel nauseated or like they want to vomit. If you haven’t eaten anything lately, you’re more likely to get an upset stomach from your medications. If that happens, you could be sick behind the wheel of your vehicle, leading to you getting distracted as you try to handle your illness rather than paying attention to the road.

Cough and cold medications could lead to a DWI

Any impairing substance can lead to you getting a DWI, even if it’s legal or available over the counter. While you’re not using alcohol to get drunk, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be dangerous behind the wheel if you’ve taken cold medications. If you’re impaired in any way, you shouldn’t be driving.

If you’re not sure how you’re going to respond, decide not to drive until you give yourself enough time to see which side effects develop. Doing this could help you protect yourself, others in your vehicle and other people on the roads.