Drugged driving is the non-medical use of a drug while driving, which can interfere with your ability to operate a vehicle. Drugs that can cause driving impairment include prescription and over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs, and alcohol. If you’re not sure what effects a drug might have on your ability to operate a vehicle, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for advice before taking the medication. And if you drive while impaired by any substance, you could face criminal charges of reckless driving or even DUI.
What Is Drugged Driving?
Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of any drug (legal or illegal) or alcohol is against the law. The effect of drugs varies widely and depends on the type of drug, how much is taken, and whether it is used with alcohol or other drugs. Driving impairment created by any kind of drug affects all aspects of vehicle operation. It makes it difficult to gauge speed, boundaries, and distance. This impairment may result in turning movements that are too wide or too close to another driver or a fixed object and not being able to see the other lane clearly. It may also mask the driver’s ability to assess risk, which makes it harder to be aware of other drivers, traffic, and hazards.
Because drugged driving is a serious problem with adverse consequences, there are laws in all 50 states and in many Canadian provinces that define impaired driving. These laws apply to all drug users who are behind the wheel of a car.
What Is The Difference Between DWI and DUI?
DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. It is a very broad term that applies to any form of drug use, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs, and alcohol. In all 50 states, DWI laws apply to all drug users who are behind the wheel of a car. However, if you drive while impaired by any substance (legal or illegal) or alcohol, you can be charged with a DUI offense instead. A DUI conviction can result in fines and jail time, as well as license suspension.
Like alcohol-impaired driving, drugged driving is a crime. And as with alcohol impairment, a person charged with drugged driving must have had a measurable amount of the drug in his or her system. A blood test is not always used in court proceedings. Instead, evidence can be presented that drugs were in your system and how recently the drugs were taken.
What Drugs Are Usually Involved In DUI Cases?
The most common type of drug used in driving under the influence cases is alcohol. But illegal drugs, prescription medicines, marijuana, and others also can cause drugged driving. A person who admits to using drugs and is stopped for a traffic violation may have to take a series of tests that can detect the presence of various substances in one’s system. If you are convicted of driving under the influence, the punishment will vary depending on what drug caused impairment and how much was in your system at the time you were arrested.
It is important to note that most states have laws that allow for biased breath testing for drugs. A test can be given after a law enforcement officer has arrested you and requested the test. Although the exact limit on how much of the drug will show up in your system depends on the substance and your size, level of activity, and body weight.
What Are The Legal Penalties For Drugged Driving?
The penalties for drugged driving vary depending on where you live. But the laws of some states or provinces make it a crime to drive with any measurable amount of a controlled substance in your body. Penalties for drugged driving include fines, license suspension, and even jail time, just as they do for alcohol-impaired driving. In most states, the penalties for drugged driving follow a first-offense schedule similar to their laws for alcohol-impaired driving. The penalties may be more severe if you have a prior conviction on your record or if you cause an accident while drugged.
What Is A Felony Traffic Offense?
Drugged driving resulting from the use of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other drugs may be considered a felony. This applies to all 50 states, but drug laws vary by state. When you are convicted of a felony traffic offense, it means you will have a criminal record that will follow you for the rest of your life. This can make it hard to get employment and housing opportunities because employers and landlords may not be willing to take the chance of hiring or renting to someone with a criminal history.
The penalties for drugged driving are severe. But the penalties will depend on whether a first-offense drug conviction is considered a misdemeanor or felony. Like most traffic offenses, a felony charge is charged as a crime and is judged by the potential punishment, which can range from probation to prison time.
If you are charged with driving under the influence, it’s smart to consult a lawyer. A defense attorney can explain the laws and penalties for drugged driving, analyze the facts of your case, discuss possible defenses, and help you decide how best to protect your rights. A DUI defense attorney can also explain whether you may be eligible for a treatment program instead of or in addition to criminal penalties.