During a recent Prime for Life class I was asked by one of my students to write about the dangers of taking sleep aids in relation to DUI arrests. My blogs have been mostly about a person in my life who has left an impact on me, who and what I am. In a way, I guess discussing more than one person and the ramifications this has had on so many counts.
Most of us are aware that, in Georgia we have the designation of DUI not DWI. What is the difference? A DUI is driving under the influence and a DWI is driving while intoxicated. It is important to us Georgians that we understand the term DUI. DUI can be any amount of alcohol, illicit drugs, or pharmaceuticals in our system while driving. I think most people understand the alcohol or illicit drugs but many don’t understand the pharmaceuticals part. Anything that impairs me can be construed as influencing behavior, reaction time, attention, thought process, etc.
I am seeing many adults arrested for DUI with a blood alcohol level of .03 or .04; which is lower than what we call the legal limit of .08. I can even be arrested if driving while tired or angry or texting causing me to be mentally impaired.
My own personal understanding is that the legal BAL limit of .08 refers to the officer not me the individual driver. By that I mean that the officer has the duty to arrest at a .08 but can make the arrest at any BAL. So is the legal limit set for me or the officer? I tend to think of it as the officer’s legal limit as at that level he is obligated to make the arrest.
We all understand the arrest of someone under the influence of illicit drugs, but what about pharmaceuticals? Over the years I have seen more and more students in the DUI/Risk Reduction class because of pharmaceuticals. Not even the misuse of them but the use of them as prescribed.
One of the main culprits is a commonly prescribed sedative used as a sleep aid. This man in my class was arrested driving under the influence of this drug with no knowledge of the occurrence. He told his story and asked me to write a blog about this drug after seeing the short video on prescription drugs. His story was not as funny as some others I have heard over the years, but thankfully he was still alive to attend class and he didn’t kill someone during the incident.
The following are snippets of some anecdotal stories told in my class. I am changing names to honor the confidentiality these people are entitled to:
- Paula – woke up in the yard, she was chasing a neighbor with a pipe! She was found driving under the influence of this drug at a later time. She received a DUI.
- Tom – woke up at 2:00 am in his pajamas at a drive through fast food restaurant still in his pajamas. The very first time he used this sedative (as prescribed by his physician). The officers on the scene were handcuffing him. He received a DUI.
- Sue – gained 40 pounds, she and her doctor were completely baffled and she had undergone several expensive tests for her thyroid only to find out unbeknownst to her under the influence of this drug she was up and eating in the night!
- Gale- Woke up still in her pajamas already booked into jail, she had been driving without any knowledge of doing do. She received a DUI.
- Gary – woke up at the dining room table with his wife’s best china in front of him. On the dinner plate, he had a stack of taper candles, with ketchup and mustard on them and was cutting them with a knife and eating them.
- Ann- was waking up to find her kitchen in utter disarray. She had two teens and was blaming them. She was telling them it was okay to make a snack after she had gone to bed but that they needed to clean up their mess. Eventually they caught her on camera cooking and going back to bed under the influence of this sedative.
Over the past several years I have been told so many of these stories, I could not share them all. I am happy to report that so far, none of my students have had a tragic incident or killed someone.
Please be aware that just because a medication is legal to take it may not be legal to drive while taking it. Also, be aware of the hidden consequences like eating, walking, driving while in a Zombie like state with no memory later.
These drugs are so dangerous, I say “Enough Already”