What is Drugged Driving?

May 24th, 2019

What is Drugged Driving? | How Many Accidents are Caused by Drugged Driving Each Year? | How Do Drugs and Alcohol Affect a Driver? | Who are Most at Risk for Drugged Driving? | What Are the Penalties for Drugged Driving? | How Can Drugged Driving be Prevented?

What is Drugged Driving?

Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicant is considered drugged driving. While alcohol and marijuana are the two most common causes of DUIs in the United States, they are certainly not the only ones. Drugs like heroin, methamphetamines, LSD, cocaine, and even doctor prescribed pharmaceuticals will significantly impair your ability to drive. There are some over the counter medications that can significantly affect your ability to drive as well. As a precaution, it’s always the right choice to consult your doctor about any medication you are taking to see if and how it will impact your ability to safely operate a vehicle.

Many people still believe that just a single drink or hit of marijuana won’t affect their ability, but even trace amounts of alcohol or other drugs is enough to alter one’s motor abilities.

How Many Accidents are Caused by Drugged Driving Each Year?

According to a 2016 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, 20.7 million people drove under the influence of some substance, and 11.8 million of those people were under the influence of something other than alcohol.

While marijuana use is still illegal on a federal level, many states have legalized it for medicinal or recreational use. And with that increased legalization of marijuana throughout the United States, the rate of drugged driving has increased along with it. A study by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration revealed that states saw a 48% increase in drivers testing positive for THC.

How Do Drugs and Alcohol Affect a Driver?

All drugs, including alcohol, have an impact on a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle, and they all do so in different ways. A person’s body reacts differently depending on the substance that is consumed.

– Alcohol will affect the driver’s central nervous system, limiting their ability to make correct decisions and severely impact their coordination and motor skills. A few examples of these side effects can be blurred or double vision, slurred speech, and it can severely limit your ability to stay balanced.

– Marijuana affects the brain differently than alcohol and can result in memory loss, hallucinations, paranoia, and a loss of coordination. Driving while under the influence of marijuana will make any driver not only a danger to themselves, but other drivers on the road as well.

– Opiates can generate some of the same side effects as alcohol and marijuana, however, the use of methamphetamine or cocaine can cause one to become agitated, aggressive, and reckless, which ultimately lead to an incredibly unsafe driving environment.

Who Are Most at Risk for Drugged Driving?

Anyone that drinks or uses drugs in any form before operating a vehicle drastically increases their chance of getting into an accident. And though this is true for everyone, men are more likely to get into an accident than women. According to a 2010 study by drunkdrivingstats.org, men committed four out of every five DUIs. The study also stated that those who drink and use drugs regularly – more than five drinks per setting – were responsible for over 80 percent of driving accidents in 2010.

Teenagers are also susceptible to drugged driving accidents, primarily due to their limited driving experience in addition to drug and alcohol use. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 16 and 19, and according to a 2016 survey by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistic and Quality, 12 percent of high school seniors said they drove under the influence of marijuana, and 9 percent admitted that they’ve driven while drunk.

What Are the Penalties for Drugged Driving?

Sixteens states in the United States have zero tolerance laws. This means it’s illegal to have any measurable amount of drugs or alcohol in a driver’s system. Seven states have ‘per se’ laws that make it illegal to have any measurable amount of drugs or alcohol in a person’s body above the legal limits.

While penalties for breaking these laws can be strict, such as citations, arrests, jail or prison time, fines, and rehab courses, the most significant penalty of drunk or drugged driving is causing injury or death to yourself or others.

How Can Drugged Driving be Prevented?

The simplest and most effective way to prevent drugged driving is to ensure that you never get behind the wheel while under the influence. If you’ve had any alcohol or drugs, find a designated driver, or use a ride-hailing or taxi service. And if you are already in addiction recovery, it’s best to avoid going to places or events where alcohol and drugs are easily accessible.

Taking care of yourself should be the top priority, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about others. Never let anyone that is drunk or high drive you, or themselves, anywhere. If you aren’t in an appropriate state to drive them yourself, offer to share a taxi or Uber/Lyft. And, if you’ve ever been in an accident while you were a passenger in an Uber/Lyft, contact an Uber and Lyft accident lawyer today.

Although it’s legal for anyone over the age of 21 to consume alcohol, the legal status of drugs varies considerably. The use of marijuana is slowly being legalized in select states, but it is still illegal on a federal level. Doctor-prescribed drugs, such as opiates, are illegal to use without a valid prescription. Other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, LSD, methampetamines, etc., are illegal no matter the state, and use those drugs can result in DUIs, long-lasting injuries, and death.

If you or a loved one was a victim of drugged driving, contact the personal injury lawyers at Flager & Associates today by calling (215) 953-5200. We provide free case evaluations.

For part 2, click here. To learn more about the dangers of drugged driving, visit http://www.quitheroin.com/drugged-driving-statistics/ today.

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