Common Substances that May Impair Drivers

Driving while intoxicated or impaired is against the law in Ohio and is known as an OVI, or operating a vehicle impaired. While alcohol and illegal drugs are most commonly associated with OVIs, there are other common — and legal — substances that also can impair a person’s ability to drive safely. The following takes a look at some of the most common substances that may impair drivers.

Sleeping Pills

For obvious reasons, sleeping pills can be one of the greatest dangers to drivers on the road. Even when taken at night, sleeping pills can cause drowsiness, lethargy and confusion the next morning. Most sleeping pills recommend that the user not take them unless a full eight hours can be allocated to sleep. Even when taken as prescribed, though, some sleeping pills (like Ambien), have been linked to car accidents, regardless. Over-the-counter sleeping pills have the potential to be just as dangerous as prescription sleeping pills.


Caffeine may seem like a harmless enough substance and is used as a morning wake-up call or an afternoon pick-me-up by a significant number of people in Columbus and the rest of the U.S. When taken in small amounts, some studies illustrate that caffeine may help to increase driver alertness and responsiveness, and maximize driving proficiency.

While caffeine can have positive effects for drivers – and even reduces the risk of a crash occurring among commercial long-distance drivers, according to one study published in the British Medical Journal – caffeine can be catastrophic when taken in combination with other substances, such as alcohol. This is because caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, leading to binge drinking. What’s more, the effects of caffeine (when taken in conjunction with other substances or on its own) can be quick to wear off, leading to delays in reaction time.

Energy Drinks 

Those who feel exhausted or have trouble concentrating often consume energy drinks. However, data from the Institute of Advanced Motorists suggest that taking an energy drink can lead to lapses in concentration when driving, and the U.S. National Safety Commission’s data says that motorists can suffer a delay in reaction time approximately one hour after drinking a high-sugar, high-caffeine beverage.

Impaired Driving and Car Accidents 

When certain substances are taken, like sleeping pills, excessive caffeine or energy drinks, impaired driving may occur. If impaired driving leads to a car accident, an attorney can guide you through the process of filing a claim and negotiating for a fair settlement amount. At Bressman Law, we’re ready to get to work today. Call us at 614-538-1116 now.