READ THE LABEL: Local deputy warns that certain medications can impair driving
Help MADD fight drunk and drugged driving at Walk Like MADD
Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants to educate drivers about the consequences of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Many people don’t realize that this includes a number of prescription medications. It’s important to be aware of the effects of any drug before getting behind the wheel.
Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Bartoskewitz has had many roadside conversations with drivers who did not realize that prescription drugs had impaired their driving. “Prescription medications absolutely can affect driving ability,” Bartoskewitz said. “Anti-depressants, pain relievers, blood pressure medications, and even cough suppressants are capable of dangerously impairing your driving ability.”
|Montgomery County Sheriff's Deputy, Brandon Baroskewitz|
When taking prescription drugs, it’s important to heed the warning labels. “If the medication states that it could cause drowsiness or dizziness, could cause changes in sleep patterns, or warns against operating heavy machinery,” Bartoskewitz said, “cars are very heavy machines – you should absolutely not drive until you are sure of the effects the medication has on you.”
Bartoskewitz advised that over-the-counter – or OTC – medicines are generally safe if taken according to package directions. He warns against combining OTC medications with prescription drugs and with alcohol. “Taking any prescriptions or OTC medications outside of the package’s specifications or in combination with other drugs, alcohol, or illicit drugs can cause dangerous effects,” Bartoskewitz said, “not only for driving but for your personal health.”
The consequences of driving under the influence of drugs, whether prescribed by a doctor or OTC medications, are the same as driving impaired by alcohol or any other substance. “The first offense is up to six months in jail, a $2,000 fine, license suspension, probation, and other potential sanctions,” Bartoskewitz said. In the event of an injury, the sentence is more severe. “If someone is seriously injured, the penalty goes to 2-10 years in prison with up to a $10,000 fine,” Bartoskewitz said, “and if someone is killed, the penalty is 2-20 years in prison with up to a $10,000 fine. It’s absolutely not worth it.”
One way to help spread the word about the dangers of drunk and drugged driving is to join Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) this year at the 6th annual Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash in The Woodlands onfrom at Northshore Park. This is the major fundraising event for MADD. Walk Like MADD is a 5K walk and MADD Dash is a family-friendly 5K run to raise awareness and funds to eliminate drunk driving and keep families and communities safe.
Corporate walking teams are a good way for companies to get involved. “It’s not too late to get together a corporate team,” said Heather Smith, Special Events Manager for MADD Southeast Texas Affiliate. Participation can create visibility for a company. “It shows the community that you care about the issues affecting them and their children,” Smith said.
Smith said, “Companies that participate in Walk Like MADD benefit in a variety of ways, including an award of recognition for the top corporate team at the walk.” Other benefits include:
- · Volunteering fosters teamwork, creativity and leadership
- · Customers are more likely to buy form companies perceived as good corporate citizens
- · Your company is positioned as a leader in the corporate community
- · Your involvement increases awareness on drunk driving and underage drinking
- · It’s a way to honor and memorialize the victims of drunk driving crashes
- · Your company and employees raise funds to support the lifesaving work of MADD
Smith encourages corporate teams and individuals to register now for Walk Like MADD and MADD Dash. “Join us in the fight against drunk driving and play a key role in keeping our roads safe,” Smith said. To form a corporate team, register at www.walklikemadd.org/