There’s a high level of awareness concerning driving under the influence all over the United States. And truth be told, this is to be expected, considering the number of horrific DUI and DWI-related deaths and accidents every year.
What many people aren’t aware of, however, is that DUI arrest isn’t only limited to driving with blood alcohol levels at or beyond the legal limit. Those who are caught driving a vehicle while under the intoxicating effects of recent drug use may face DUI charges and will need an experienced DUI drug lawyer to represent them in court – and we’re not just talking about illegal drugs here.
What is drugged driving, and why is it dangerous?
Just like alcohol, some types of drugs can impair the senses and, consequently, one’s driving abilities. These drugs have different effects depending on how they impact the brain.
Marijuana, for example, can distort a person’s judgment of time and distance and decreased coordination. Cocaine and meth can cause aggression and lead to reckless driving, while prescription medicine, the likes of opioids and benzodiazepines, can make a person feel drowsy or dizzy and may mess up cognitive functions while driving.
Studies on the effects of marijuana found that using marijuana shortly before or while driving is likely to show reduced reaction time and altered attention while on the road. Opioids, on the other hand, cause drowsiness and impairs judgment, which multiplies the risk of a car crash.
It can be challenging to gauge the exact effects or level of impact these drugs have on driving because people tend to take various substances, including and especially with alcohol. But though they may have different uses and purposes, even small doses of these drugs can put lives at serious risk all the same — not only that of the driver but those of the passengers and the people sharing the road with them.
Prescription drugs and drugged driving – What’s the real score?
Most states in the U.S. have zero-tolerance for drugged driving, and YES, that included prescription drugs as well. Laws on DUID or driving under the influence of drugs don’t only cover people on cocaine and other illicit substances. If you’re caught behind the wheel with prescribed medicines like painkillers and antidepressants in your system, chances are, you’ll be charged with DUID, too.
Prescription drugs are taken mostly for health and medical reasons, but they have varying degrees of side effects detrimental to one’s driving. The common side effects of painkillers and medicines for hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease include drowsiness, blurred vision, nausea, and poor focus and concentration – any one or a mix of these can be life-threatening when experienced while driving.
Many people think that having their doctor’s prescription with them at the time of the arrest can save them from DUID charges. If you thought the same thing, then you, too, were mistaken. States like Arizona, Kansas, and Delaware — among others, have very tough laws on DUI and may not accept legal entitlement to use a drug as a valid defense to a DUID charge.
What to do in case of DUID arrest?
To avoid getting arrested for DUI while on prescription drugs, always discuss the side effects of prescribed medicines and supplements with your physician. Your doctor can advise you on the right dosage and timing or adjust the schedule and frequency of your intake to fit your daily routine better.
But should you find yourself or a loved one arrested for drugged driving, your best course of action is to involve a skilled and experienced DUI lawyer in the case. The consequences of a DUID conviction varies from one state to another. Still, the penalties can be severe – jail time, hefty fines, and revocation of driver’s license are just some of the common punishments.
Having an attorney who specializes in DUI cases to represent you in court will increase your chances of getting the best possible result.