Huntsville’s Premier Personal Injury Attorney

The legality of teenagers driving while taking ADHD medications

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2024 | Liquor Liability / Drunk Driving Accident Liability

When a doctor prescribes ADHD medication for a teenager, parents may have concerns about their child’s liability in the event of a car wreck.

People with attention deficit disorders take stimulant medications to help them focus on tasks such as driving. However, if they cause an accident while under the influence of these medications, they may face accusations of driving under the influence.

Legality of driving on ADHD medications

In Alabama, it is legal for teenagers to drive while taking prescribed medications for ADHD, as long as they are following their doctor’s instructions and the medications do not impair their ability to drive safely. However, parents need to be aware of the potential side effects of these medications, such as drowsiness or dizziness, which could affect a child’s driving ability.

Tests for impaired driving

If a teenager causes an accident, a police officer may administer one of the following field sobriety tests:

  • Horizontal gaze test: The officer watches for involuntary jerking of the eyeballs while the subject tracks a moving object
  • Walk-and-turn: The subject must walk a straight line, turn and come back
  • One-leg test: The officer observes the subject stand on one leg for 30 seconds while counting backward

ADHD medications do not generally affect performance on these tests. However, failing one or more of them may suggest impairment.

Interactions with alcohol

Both alcohol and ADHD medications can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired coordination. The combination can intensify these effects, increasing the risk of accidents or injuries. Therefore, a teenager who has consumed alcohol while taking his or her medication may be liable for impaired driving. However, the adult who gave the teen alcohol also may have legal responsibility for what happened.

To reduce the risk of impaired driving, teenagers should ADHD medications only as prescribed by their doctor and never combine them with alcohol. Parents should also allow them time to get used to their medications before trusting them with car keys.