Today I made my third attempt this week to go to Confession and again did not make it. I felt fine when I left the house, but before I even got out of town I began to feel sleepy. I had taken a prescription tranquilizer 20 hours earlier and it occurred to me that some of it was probably still in my system. So I went to McDonalds to buy some coffee, drank it quickly, still felt tired and then thought, “I can’t just drive all the way to the church and then confess this. That would be the sin of presumption. I don’t think I’m a danger to anyone but what if it’s a sin to drive with the possibility of the drug still in my system?” I debated about what to do and then turned around and went home. I’m afraid I might have been considering committing the sin of presumption–that I would be forgiven in Confession even if I didn’t mention this sin. But I did turn around and go back home. Should I mention all this at my next Confession (provided I ever make it there) or would that be the sin of presumption?
I think it was a very good (and moral) decision not to drive when you fear any drug might impair your driving and thereby post a danger to yourself or others. If a grave sin burdens your conscience and your forget to confess it, mention it at your next confession as one you forgot to mention last time. There are occasions were some with tender consciences can get over-scrupulous in this matter. However, a good confessor ought to be able to guide such a soul.
Feeling sleepy, drowsy, or tired does not necessarily imply that a person cannot perform the basic functions involved in driving a vehicle. These traits would be problematic if a person could not stay awake, or if they were so impaired that they couldn’t perform basic driving duties.
There is a world of difference between being 80 percent alert and fresh, and being utterly inebriated.
I would interpret these events as scrupulosity, and a temptation to avoid confession by means of working through such scrupulosity. Likewise, I think it very unlikely that a scrupulous conscience would also feel apathy with regard to whether or not it should have sorrow for sin, and thus commit the sin of presumption.
If you have an uncertainty with regard to driving while medication is in your system, I would bring that up with Father during a confession … so long as you absolutely will take his advice, and never be afraid to do such a thing should he tell you it’s not problematic.
Confession is such an awesome way to bring light to aspects of moral theology we’re not sure of, and there is a difference between genuinely being unsure, and consistently having the exact same fear and never accepting guidance.
If we’re not sure, we can go ask Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance, and He will guide us.
If the prescription tranquilizer was still having the intended effect the OP could have been charged with DUI or could have fallen asleep at the wheel and caused a wreck or injury/death which could then have had other charges added such as reckless driving, vehicular homicide. The OP did the correct thing in getting off the roads.
OP: If after 20 hours the medication is still having effects you need to talk with your doctor about changing meds or dosage…
Presumption is when you deliberately and unapologetically continue to sin under the lie that God will wink at it. i.e. “Turning Christ at the cross into a license for immorality”. You can’t commit presumption by confessing a sin or a potential sin in Reconciliation. The essential purpose of Reconciliation is to absolve a person from mortal sin. You are still perfectly free (and encouraged) to confess venial sin or to speak with your priest about uncertain occasions that made your conscious feel uneasy. Educating yourself in moral theology and Church teaching, as well as speaking with your priest and/or spiritual director, as well as prayer and adoration, can help to tame scrupulous thoughts over time. Like all growth, it is something that takes time, struggle, and discipline, and you must be patient with yourself.