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DUI and Drugs

Drugs That Impair Driving

When you hear the words DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), what do you think of? If you are like most people you think of someone who drives a vehicle after drinking alcohol. You probably think about someone who is Drunk Driving.

You may not realize or have thought that the terms DUI and DWI can also refer to someone driving under the influence of either illegal or prescription drugs. In fact, they can and do refer to a driver who is under the influence of (impaired by) either illegal or prescription drugs, as well as alcohol.

The 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.

Someone may ask, “Do drugs really impair a driver? Are drugs as potentially dangerous as drunk driving?”

The main concern in regard to drugged driving is the effect that drug or drugs will have on the driver. Driving Under the Influence of any drug that acts on your brain could impair your reaction time, judgment and motor skills. 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 drugs that act on your brain can alter your attention, balance, coordination, cognition, perception, reaction time and other faculties that are needed for safe driving. The effects of specific drugs of abuse differ depending on their mechanisms of action, the history of the user, the amount consumed and other factors.

What are some of the drugs that will impair your driving? Here are some drugs that you do not need to take and drive.

Research has shown that marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug that has been detected in fatally injured drivers, impaired drivers and motor vehicle crash victims. Marijuana affects the areas of your brain that control your body's movements, memory, balance, judgment and coordination, as well as sensations. More research is needed to understand the impact of marijuana on the ability of a driver to react to unpredictable and complex situations because the effects of this drug are multifaceted.

There are some things that can be said about the effects of marijuana on driving. Some of these are:


  • Cognitive and behavioral skills were impaired in a dose-dependent fashion as levels of marijuana increased in the blood.
  • Evidence from both simulated and real driving studies shows that marijuana can affect in a negative way a driver's attentiveness, the ability to draw on information obtained from past experiences and perception of time and speed.
  • The impairment is significantly increased when marijuana is combined with the use of alcohol.
  • Studies have indicated that many drivers who test positive for alcohol also test positive for marijuana. This makes it clear that drinking and drugged driving are related behaviors.

Other drugs that can impair your driving include cocaine, benzodiazepines, amphetamines and opiates, as well as prescription drugs. Many prescription medications (opiate analgesics and benzodiazepines) act on systems in your brain that can impair your driving ability. In fact, many prescription drugs come with warnings against the operation of machinery—including motor vehicles—for a specified period of time after use. Impaired driving can occur when prescription drugs are taken without medical supervision or when their use is abused.

Taking drugs and then driving a motor vehicle is often a lethal combination that can have serious consequences. Some of these include:


  • Being charged with a criminal offense and facing fines and/or jail terms
  • Damaging public property
  • Living with the guilt of injury to yourself or another person for the rest of your life
  • Disabling an maiming an individual
  • Causing an accident that kills an innocent victim or victims
  • Your insurance and driver's license can be suspended
  • Burdening society with millions in court costs, lost earnings, rehabilitation, social programs and health care.

Drugs and driving are a hazard to all of us on the streets and highways in the United States. As surely as you should not drink and drive, so also, you should not take drugs and drive.

What should you do if you have been arrested for a DUI because of drugs? Do you need a DUI Attorney? Should you try to handle this yourself? Who do you turn to for help?

By now you should realize that being arrested for DUI Charges because of driving under the influence of drugs is an extremely serious matter that can affect you for the rest of your life. You will definitely need the help and representation of a good DUI Lawyer.


See Also:
Driving and Cocaine
Driving and Marijuana