If you take drugs, stay out of the driver’s seat

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

Law enforcement agents in California, and in many states around the country, have noticed an increase of drivers who are driving under the influence of drugs. You may think that driving after taking medication, especially if it is prescribed, is alright, but this is not the case. The consequences of drugged driving are the same as for those who drink and drive.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, drug-impaired driving refers to those who are impaired due to:

  • Over-the-counter medication
  • Prescription drugs such as pain relievers, sleep meds, anti-depressants, allergy medication, etc
  • Illegal drugs
  • Recreational or medicinal marijuana

Drivers who are arrested for drugged driving face the same penalties as a regular DUI. This may include license suspension, jail time, probation and monetary consequences. If the driver caused an accident there may also be criminal charges. In fact, in around 19% of fatal accidents, the driver was found to be under the influence of drugs.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the affect on driving varies depending on the type of drug. Meth and cocaine can cause the driver to be reckless and aggressive, while marijuana affects coordination, slows down reaction time and impairs judgment. Sedatives can cause drowsiness and dizziness. Drug use and driving is especially a problem in teenagers and older drivers. Teenagers are at a higher risk because they are inexperienced behind the wheel and may not be as aware of perilous scenarios. In the elder population, drugs tend to break down at a slower rate and mental decline can cause them to misuse their medication.

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