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Ohio couple killed by driver impaired by legal medication

A Licking County couple died on March 6 in an accident with an impaired driver. Unlike many such accidents, however, the driver who caused this wreck wasn't on anything illicit. He was taking a legally prescribed painkiller instead.

The driver of a Ford Explorer crossed in front of oncoming traffic around 8:30 in the evening after allegedly falling asleep at the wheel. He crashed into a Chevy Blazer, killing the 59-year-old woman and 47-year-old man inside.

The driver of the Ford and his four-old son were able to walk away unharmed. The driver openly admitted to police that he had recently been prescribed methadone, which is frequently given as a pain medication to people who suffer from chronic pain. It is also sometimes used as a substitute for narcotics to prevent withdrawal symptoms in addicts who are trying to quit.

Later, when investigative reporters approached the man's house to learn more about the incident, an unnamed woman insisted that he had simply fallen asleep at the wheel and that neither drugs nor alcohol caused the crash. However, Highway Patrol officers determined at the scene that the driver was showing signs of impairment. In addition, the driver has a history of impaired driving. Reporters learned that he has been convicted of drunk driving at least three times in the past.

It's important for drivers to understand that even legally prescribed medication can cause impaired driving. As a spokesman for the Ohio State Highway Patrol said, "Even though it's legally prescribed by a physician, you are still responsible for what's in your body and how it can affect you."

Drugs that have a psychotropic effect can often cause impaired driving or drowsy driving, and patients are often better off staying off the road until they're sure the medication isn't affecting them. When drivers don't take adequate precautions, the results can be deadly.

When a loved one is killed through another person's reckless or irresponsible actions, you may have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim. Such a claim won't restore your life as it was, but it can help provide for your needs and hold the other person accountable for what they have done.

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