Drug-Impaired Driving and the Law
It is unlawful to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol in every state. While most people know the laws related to driving under the influence of alcohol, few people realize that each state has specific laws prohibiting drug-impaired driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 56% of “drivers involved in serious injury and fatal crashes” tested positive for at least one drug. Contrary to popular belief, it is not only illicit drugs that can cause impairment. Prescription and over-the-counter medicines can also cause significant impairment.
How different drugs affect your driving:
- Alcohol and marijuana can “slow coordination, judgment, and reaction times.”
- Cocaine and methamphetamine can result in aggression and recklessness.
- Certain medicines can have side effects such as drowsiness and dizziness.
Individuals who use controlled substances should not drive and should designate a sober driver. NHTSA has launched several campaigns against drug-impaired driving including the If You Feel Different, You Drive Different campaign.
It is important to seek treatment if you are using drugs and are unable to stop. Treatment can help you learn about your triggers and develop coping mechanisms. Remember, drugs that impair are not limited to illegal or illicit drugs. They can include prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Sleeping pills, anti-depressants, opioids, sedatives, and other drugs have dangerous side effects that can result in severe impairment.
Driving while impaired by drugs can have a number of consequences including an increased risk of an accident, injury, or arrest.