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Sleeping pills may have played part in car crash

June 23, 2010

Side effects of sleeping pills may have contributed to a Wauwatosa man's crash into a traffic sign at 70th Street and Blue Mound Road last week.

According to the Wauwatosa police report:

A 50-year-old man's vehicle mounted a curb and struck and bent a school zone speed limit sign at 1:04 a.m. Wednesday. The light mounted on top of the pole shattered and wires were exposed.

The Fire Department was called to help get the man out of the car, which had severe front-end damage.

When he was freed, he told firefighters he had taken prescription sleeping pills at 9 p.m. and midnight. But because he still couldn't fall asleep, he drove to a gas station at 92nd Street and Blue Mound for doughnuts and cigarettes.

He did not recall what had occurred between making the purchases and the crash and he could not keep his eyes open long enough to perform sobriety tests, so he was taken to Froedtert Hospital.

A pharmacist said the pills were a controlled substance and their effect typically lasts eight hours. He added that getting out of bed while not fully awake and not recalling performing tasks like driving or cooking is a side effect of the medication. The pills are meant to treat short-term insomnia, but the driver had been using them for years.

He was arrested for driving while intoxicated.

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