Things You Should Know about Drugs and Driving

Drugs and Driving Don’t Mix

Drugs and driving do not make a good combination. It seems like more and more people are using some type of drug for recreational purposes. When users take these drugs and drive, there is an accelerated risk of injury or death to the driver, passengers, and those riding in other vehicles. The term “drugs” can be broken down into many different types of mind or body inducing elements.

The term “narcotics” is more closely related to opium and heroin, not to cocaine and marijuana. However, laws in many areas do label marijuana as a narcotic as well. The effects various drugs have on drivers are currently being studied around the world. In many cases, the results are still inconclusive as it pertains to marijuana, which is considered by many to be the true recreational drug of the day. Regardless of the drug being used if the driver is impaired while driving the consequences could be deadly.

Drugs and driving - copyright:  Joshua Resnick

Marijuana Impairs More Drivers than Any Other Drug

Next to alcohol, marijuana impairs more drivers than any other drug.

It is considered by far to be the most widely used recreation drug. Although many will argue the effects it has on drivers or the lack thereof; many laws consider it to be a narcotic and driving while influenced will lead to criminal consequences.

Known Effects of Marijuana

The debate over the true effects of marijuana rages on, but many studies have shown that it can cause some drivers to lose their perception of time and distance. It is believed that it can induce lane weaving and cause poor reaction time. Although some studies have shown that it is less likely to impair drivers than alcohol; it does impair more than drivers that don’t use either. The mind inducing element in this particular drug is THC.

The Impairing Effects of Drugs

Different drugs may cause various effects in the users. However, in general, all will impair the driver from operating their vehicle safely and effectively to some degree. The level of their impairment depends on the amount of the drug that has been absorbed into their system. Studies have shown that cocaine causes many drivers to be reckless and aggressive. A variety of drugs can cause the user to lack good judgment, experience delayed reaction times and impair motor skills. Some people may lose proper balance, coordination, and attentiveness. In general, all of these drugs can leave the driver impaired and unable to safely maneuver their vehicle.

In any case, drugs and driving don’t mix.

The Dangers of Driving while Impaired

Anyone or anything in the vicinity of an impaired driver is in danger. Other vehicles, pedestrians, and property are all subject to injury, death or damage. The leading cause of death among teenagers between the ages of 16-19 is car accidents. Although many of these accidents are caused by excessive speed, it is believed that a good percentage is caused by impaired drivers.

Being arrested - copyright:  Rommel Canlas

It is not legal to drive while impaired.

The laws against drugged driving differ from state to state. Drivers caught driving while impaired will be charged with DUI or DWI. DUI or driving under the influence and DWI or driving while impaired. To most people these offenses bring to mind only alcohol, but many people charged with DUI or DWI are really being charged with a controlled substance DUI/DWI.

Violators can be fined, placed on probation or even do time in jail. In most cases the driver’s license will be suspended.

Remember, just because it is legal to use marijuana in several states; it is not legal to drive while impaired.

What Happens if You are Arrested?

Drug use is typically determined by the arresting officer’s findings, urine tests or blood tests. While the legal alcohol limit provides the court with an easy-to-use measuring system, drug DUI arrests are more complex.

If a controlled substance or illegal drug is found in your blood or urine, you are likely to be convicted. In some states, any detectable level of an illegal drug in your system is enough to get you convicted.

It is, however, important to remember that “drugged driving” is not limited only to illegal drugs.

Accidents Caused by Drug Impairment

Even if driving under the influence of drugs is one of the top causes of car crashes, it is quite difficult to estimate how many accidents are truly caused by drugged drivers.

What we do know is that drugs and driving can change the lives of many and end the lives of more than necessary.

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Photo credits: Joshua Resnick and Rommel Canlas

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