Non-Prescription Drugs and Trucker Impairment


Driving a commercial truck is a hard job, with long hours and tough physical and mental demands. Job stress has caused many hardworking Americans to abuse illicit or prescription drugs to cope, regardless of occupation. But many people may not realize that non-prescription medications, also called over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, can be just as dangerous as alcohol when it comes to driving. And when the vehicle being driven is an 80,000-pound truck, the risk of a catastrophic accident is high.

Did you suffer injuries in a wreck due to truck driver impairment? If so, you deserve compensation for your losses. At THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys, we can identify everyone who should be held liable for the accident and build a solid claim demanding the money and justice you deserve.

Our Las Vegas truck accident lawyers understand that taking legal action can feel overwhelming when you’re recovering from serious injuries. That’s why our team makes every effort to take the burden of the legal process off your shoulders. You can rely on us to craft a persuasive case for maximum compensation for you. With decades of experience handling truck accident claims and a history of top-dollar verdicts and settlements for injured Nevadans, our law firm is equipped to handle the most complex cases.

Reach out to THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys today for a free consultation with a knowledgeable Nevada truck accident lawyer. Our attorneys can meet with you wherever and whenever is most convenient for you. Call or contact us now.

Why Do Truck Drivers Do Drugs?

Many truck drivers spend as many as 14 hours a day on duty, often for a week or more at a time. These intense shifts typically extend beyond traditional working hours, disrupting a driver’s natural sleep-and-wake cycles. Truckers may turn to non-prescription sleep aids for help maintaining such demanding schedules.

Truckers also experience significant job and emotional stress. Employers impose tight delivery schedules on drivers and sometimes offer incentives for them to make early deliveries ― sometimes at the expense of their own employees’ health. Their jobs take them hundreds of miles away from their families and loved ones, force them to live out of their cabs, and cause them to go long stretches with only a radio to keep them company. Some of these difficulties are part of the job but cause emotional strain, leading to OTC drug overuse.

It’s important to remember that OTC drug use is not prohibited for truckers. Non-prescription medications for colds, fever, migraines, body pain, and other ailments are allowed. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) emphasizes that no trucker should drive until they know whether they will experience side effects from an OTC medication.

How Do Medications Affect a Trucker’s Driving Ability?

While some truck drivers use illicit drugs on the job, other drivers lawfully use prescription or over-the-counter medications for various reasons. They may do so to treat diagnosed medical conditions or diseases or to relieve allergies, cold, and flu symptoms. But these medications, as well as stimulants to stay awake or drugs to counter motion sickness, can all impair driving ability.

However, both OTC and prescription drugs affect truck drivers in different ways. In the worst cases, these drugs impair a driver’s ability to operate their vehicles safely. Potential side effects include:

  • Impaired judgment, poor decision-making skills, and lowered inhibitions
  • Motor coordination problems
  • Blurred vision
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Altered perception of the road
  • Increased anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Agitation
  • Anger

When Do Medications Disqualify a Trucker from Driving?

Truck drivers are permitted to take medications while on duty or on the road under certain circumstances. However, FMCSA regulations state that some medications disqualify truck drivers or require them to be removed from service under certain circumstances:

  • Truckers may not take any prescription drugs or controlled substances unless prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner.
  • Any use of certain drugs or prescription medications — including opiates and opiate derivatives, stimulants or depressants, narcotics, amphetamines, or any other habit-forming drug — automatically disqualifies a trucker from service. However, a truck driver may be returned to service if they lawfully use a disqualifying drug under a prescription and their treating physician and a medical examiner certify that the driver can safely operate a vehicle while taking the drug.
  • The use of anti-seizure medications or methadone also disqualifies a truck driver from service.

Medicines That Might Affect Driving

Examples of legal medications that may affect a truck driver’s ability to safely operate their vehicle include:

  • Sedatives
  • Stimulants, including drugs containing caffeine, ephedrine, or pseudoephedrine
  • Diet pills or weight loss supplements
  • Sleep aids, such as melatonin or drugs containing the ingredient zolpidem
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) products
  • Decongestants
  • Pain and fever relievers
  • Antihistamines and allergy medications
  • Anti-diarrhea or anti-nausea medications, which can cause dizziness and drowsiness
  • Motion sickness/vertigo medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-anxiety medication
  • Anti-psychotic medications
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Insulin and other diabetic medications
  • Cholesterol medication
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Narcotic and opioid painkillers
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Medications containing codeine

Truckers should also remember that OTC medications could interact poorly with other prescription medications if used in combination. For this reason, it’s critical not to take any new medicines until you know whether the drugs are safe to use together. It’s best to ask a pharmacist or doctor if you’re unsure. But keep in mind you’re not out of the woods even if the two drugs are not contraindicated. Every person’s body chemistry is different, and you could have an atypical reaction. Always do a trial of the medications together well before your driving shift begins.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney in Las Vegas Today

Did you suffer injuries in a truck accident caused by over-the-counter drug use in Nevada? You need help from an experienced Las Vegas truck accident lawyer right away. At THE702FIRM Injury Attorneys, we know what it takes to hold the at-fault party(s) accountable for their recklessness. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.