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A nurse in her 30s who was involved in a car accident while taking sleeping pills and driving has been fined.

On the 11th, Judge Chung Jung-jung of the 31th Criminal Division of the Gwangju District Law announced that he had sentenced Mr. A (800, female), who was put on trial for violating the Act on Aggravated Punishment of Certain Crimes (dangerous driving), to a fine of 12 million won.

Mr. A was accused of injuring the other driver by hitting the opposite vehicle while driving on a one-way, one-lane road in front of a condominium in Buk-gu, Gwangju at around 6:4 a.m. on June 3 last year.

The nurse allegedly took one sleeping pill (45 mg) containing the psychotropic drug zolpidem at the time and got behind the wheel in his pajamas with his eyes loose.

Mr. A reportedly staggered after the car accident and stumbled when asked by a police officer, "Have you been drinking?"

He was also stopped by police officers when he tried to continue driving without properly remembering the accident, and he exhibited abnormal behavior, such as trying to walk to the side of the road when asked to "sit on the sidewalk."

Despite the fact that a video of the day's situation remained, Mr. A claimed that he was "drugged but able to drive normally."

However, the court did not accept Mr. A's argument based on the specific statements and videos of the police and the victim.

In particular, the court pointed out that "due to the nature of the defendant's profession, it appears that he knew better than anyone the characteristics, duration, and side effects of the drug in question," and that "nevertheless, his guilt of ignoring it and causing an accident while driving in a difficult state of normal driving is not light."

He explained the reasons for sentencing, saying, "However, the sentence was decided in consideration of various circumstances, such as the fact that the victim was two weeks before the injury was not serious, that he was agreed with the victim, and that he was a first-time offender."

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Zolpidem, on the other hand, is a drug often sought after by insomniacs, which intensifies the action of inhibitory neurotransmitters in the brain to induce sleep, and the effects are so powerful that the effects can be seen within 15 minutes.

However, it is classified as a narcotic drug and has a strong dependence, so excessive doses can cause side effects such as not remembering behavior for a certain period of time, sleeping driving, sleepwalking, hallucinations, and worsening depression without fully waking up.

In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a strong warning that "zolpidem rarely has very serious side effects, such as sleepwalking and drowsy driving, that can lead to daily activities without being fully awake," and that "doctors should stop taking the medication with a warning that anyone who has experienced even one of these side effects is at risk of injury or death."

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of Korea also announces safety guidelines, such as △Keeping in mind the possibility of abuse and dependence of zolpidem, non-drug treatment is prioritized when treating insomnia △Not prescribed to patients under 18 years of age △Prohibition of taking more than 10mg per day △The duration of use should not exceed 4 weeks.

(Photo = Yonhap News)