Drinking and driving have been a serious problem in the United States for many years. The words DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated) are all too familiar to most of us. Drunk driving has been responsible for the loss of thousands of lives in this country.
It may surprise you to find out that these terms DUI, DWI can also be used in regard to driving under the influence of either prescription or illegal drugs. The fact is, they can and do also refer to a driver who is under the influence of (impaired) either illegal or prescription drugs, as well as alcohol.
A person who uses psychoactive drugs and then proceeds to drive a vehicle is an issue of ongoing concern to authorities. It is an issue of continual concern to law enforcement officers, forensic toxicologists, attorneys, physicians and traffic safety professionals in every state in the United States. Some of the things that are matters of concern are ways to identify the drug impaired driver on the road, the availability of appropriate chemical tests, the documentation and assessment of the impairment displayed by the driver and the interpretation of the subsequent results.
Can drugs really impair a driver like alcohol? Are drugs as potentially dangerous as drunk driving?” These are questions you may ask.
The effect or effects that drugs have on you as a driver is the main concern authorities have in regard to drugged driving. Your reaction time, motor skills and judgment may all be impaired by any drug that acts on your brain. Driving under the influence of drugs is a public health concern because it puts not only the driver at risk, but also passengers and others who share the road.
The effects of specific drugs of abuse differ depending on the amount consumed, their mechanisms of action, the history of the user and other factors. Drugs that act on your brain can alter or change your coordination, perception, reaction time, cognition, balance and other faculties that you need for safe driving.
Marijuana is by far the illegal drug that is used most often before and during driving. Another illegal drug that can cause your driving to be impaired is cocaine.
Cocaine is classed as a CNS (central nervous system) stimulant and a local anesthetic. Cocaine has minor use as a topical local anesthetic for ear, nose and throat surgery. Traditionally, the coca leaves are brewed into a tea or chewed to relieve fatigue and for refreshment. Recreationally, cocaine is used to feel stronger and more decisive, increase alertness and relieve fatigue. Cocaine is also abused in its use because of the intense euphoric effects that it brings.
Most of the time cocaine abusers inject the hydrochloride salt intravenously or they smoke “crack” in a glass pipe. Snorting (insufflation/intranasal) is also a popular way in which cocaine is used. Subcutaneous injection (skin-popping) is rarely used.
The blood concentration level of cocaine cannot usually be associated with a specific effect or degree of impairment for you as a driver without additional information. The reason for this is due to many factors, including artifactual changes in cocaine concentrations on storage and on individual levels of tolerance to cocaine. There is a large overlap between therapeutic, toxic and lethal cocaine concentrations. Also, adverse reactions have been reported after prolonged use of cocaine even when no measurable parent drug was in the blood.
There are many effects that are caused by cocaine that may affect or impair your driving. Some of the early effects are:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Increased light sensitivity
- Increased body temperature
- Constriction of peripheral blood vessels
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Excitation, including sexual excitement
- General arousal
- Motor restlessness
- Increased talkativeness.
Some of the later effects you may experience are:
Chronic use of cocaine and cocaine overdose may cause many serious effects like paranoia, fear, psychosis, hallucinations, convulsions, cerebral hemorrhage, heart failure and death from respiratory failure. Cocaine excited delirium is a syndrome that is often caused by excessive cocaine use. It is associated with violence to people and property, hyperthermia, a dissociative state, exaggerated strength, cardiorespiratory arrest and sudden death.
Some of the signs of driving impairment that may have been caused by cocaine that have been observed are speeding, causing collisions, losing control of the vehicle, high-risk behavior, turning in front of other vehicles, inattentive driving and poor impulse control. You may suffer from depression, sleepiness, inattention and fatigue as the effects of cocaine wear off.
You may be facing a DUI arrest for cocaine? You face DUI charges because of cocaine. Is this something you can handle yourself?
DUI charges and DUI penalties are a serious matter. Even if this is your first DUI arrest, you may face a long driver’s license suspension and time in jail. You may also have to do community service and attend drug and alcohol classes (DUI School). In many states, judges are being required to give out stricter DUI penalties and fines.
Hopefully, you realize that your DUI defense for cocaine needs to be prepared by an attorney, but not just any lawyer.
General and family attorneys are wonderful, but you need a DUI lawyer who knows DUI laws and can give you the best possible DUI defense. A proven DUI attorney may be able to minimize the damages and fines that you face. A skilled DUI lawyer may even be able to have the DUI charges against you dropped.