Mixing medications and driving poses many dangers

- After golf legend, Tiger Woods' arrest Monday for DUI, the impact of some prescription drugs on one's ability to drive is being reevaluated. 

Dash cam video of Woods' arrest may be released later this week, shedding more light on his demeanor. Records show Woods was found asleep behind the wheel. His black Mercedes was parked but still running.

A police report from Palm Beach County says Woods was taking four medications when he was arrested for DUI. One was Vicodin which can impair a person's ability to drive. There was no alcohol in his system.

Getting a DUI without a sip of alcohol is easier than you think. This case serves as a warning that certain prescription drugs can have a dangerous impact on your abilities to function, especially, when mixed.

"Part of the problem is, people may not realize how impaired they are," said Dr. Drew Silverman, Doctor of Pharmacy at Tampa General Hospital.

Silverman said patients can easily underestimate the power of prescriptions. That's where the trouble starts.

"Of course our first thought is, that won't be me," Silverman said. "When pharmacists put those caution labels on those medications, that's because we know the potential for significant issues."

If pain medications like Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycodone are combined with muscle relaxants, the effects are amplified. The patient can experience sluggishness, drowsiness, blurred vision or dizziness.

Silverman points out you wouldn't get behind the wheel if you'd been drinking and felt this way. The same should go for medication.

"One of the things we always recommend to patients when they are starting new medications like this is to take their first dose at night," Silverman said. "Or, obviously, if they need to take a pain medication right away, stay home. Don't go anywhere. See how you react to the medication."

Just like alcohol, when you swallow that pill you are legally responsible for what happens next. Your doctor can't help you if you get pulled over.

"The responsibility is really on each of the citizens in Florida to know when they are impaired," said Attorney Jeff Brown.

Brown said the law doesn't make a distinction between alcohol or prescriptions. If you're under the influence, you'll be arrested.

"The state of Florida really doesn't care how it got into your system, it doesn't care where it came from," Brown said. "The real question is whether you're impaired and driving an automobile."

Silverman said, "It's very important that you don't just take these medicines and go about your business normally. See how it affects you before you drive a car or do anything else."

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