Sleep disorders are a huge problem in Louisiana and across the nation. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems such as insomnia — and that four percent of the population relies on prescription medications.
Sleep aids such as Ambien, Lunesta, and Rozerem can play a critical role in achieving optimal, uninterrupted sleep — but at a cost. Driving, in particular, is risky for adults who rely on these medications.
Why Sedatives Are So Dangerous Behind the Wheel
As the Food and Drug Administration notes, sedatives (especially those known as zolpidem) can impact drivers not only shortly after consumption, but also the next morning. FDA experts are particularly concerned about extended-release varieties of zolpidem such as Ambien CR. Research suggests that drug levels remain high enough to impair driving the morning after they’re consumed.
Many drivers are completely unaware that seemingly safe sleep aids place them at risk. Despite the presence of the drug in their bloodstream, drivers may feel sufficiently awake. Their driving behavior belies their perceived alertness, however; those with increased levels of zolpidem may experience reduced coordination or slower reaction times. Even supposedly minor impairments can prove deadly.
Sleep Aids and DWI in Louisiana
Driving while intoxicated charges don’t always involve alcohol. Many drivers are pulled over for taking legal, prescribed drugs. While medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and benzodiazepines are most commonly associated with prescription drug DWIs, drug charges are also common for drivers who take Ambien and other sleep aids.
In some of the most frightening cases, drivers take sleep aids as prescribed, go to bed, and wake up while being arrested for DWI. Sleep driving is a shockingly common phenomenon, and one person with sleep disorders may not discover it until they’re arrested.
If charged with an Ambien DWI, you must prove that you obtained your medication with a valid prescription. Involuntary intoxication defense may encompass the following arguments:
- You abided by the prescribed dosage and followed all instructions from your doctor and the drug manufacturer.
- You were not alerted by your doctor or the drug manufacturer to the risks of combining sleep aids with alcohol.
- You were not informed of the impact your sleep aid could have if combined with certain over-the-counter medications.
Defending Against Sleep Aid-Related DWI Charges in Louisiana
If you’ve been accused of DWI despite taking sleep aids as prescribed, it is imperative that you work with a skilled Louisiana DWI attorney. Your lawyer can accurately interpret toxicology reports and use available evidence to achieve either dropped or reduced charges.