Driving under the influence of drugs is something almost everyone has done at some time in their lives. Known as drugged driving, the offense involves driving while under the influence of both illegal and legal drugs, which can include certain medications even if they are prescribed to you.
Some people may have been charged with drugged driving when they drove with traces of a sleep medication or medical marijuana in their systems. While drugged driving sounds bad by its very name, it is something that many people have done without really thinking about it. Most adults are prescribed medications of some type, and many of those are substances that can have an effect on your ability to drive or to operate machinery.
Whether a drug is a prescription medication or an illegal substance, it might impair your ability to drive. When you are facing charges of driving under the influence of drugs, it is important that you get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At the Law Firm of Scott D. Henry, we are Riverside, San Bernadino and Orange County’s leading DUI defense firm.
DRUGGED DRIVING STATISTICS
The National Institute on Drug Abuse, an arm of the National Institute of Health, culled a variety of statistics about drugged driving that illustrate the prevalence of the problem:
- One out of every three drivers killed in car wrecks in 2009 tested positive for drugs.
- In excess of 31 million people in the U.S. drove while impaired by drugs or alcohol in 2013.
- One out of three college students reported driving after using marijuana.
- 12 percent of high school students reported driving after using marijuana.
- 22 percent of drivers tested positive for drugs during 2013 to 2014, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse warns that driving under the influence of drugs can risk your life, the lives of your passengers as well as the lives of other people on the road around you while you drive.
WHY DRUGGED DRIVING IS SO PREVALENT
There are several factors that have led to the prevalence of drugged driving. There are many different types of illegal and legal drugs that are available on the market. Some people have the mistaken notion that because they are prescribed a medication, it is always safe to use. Many people take their medications without giving them a second thought. Each different type of drug has a different effect on the brain as well.
The side effects of some drugs cause people to feel very drowsy. Others might cause coordination problems, dizziness, hallucinations or slurred speech. Any of these types of side effects can greatly impair a person’s ability to attend to the task of driving, leading to an increased risk of accident involvement.
Some drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, may cause drivers to drive recklessly or aggressively. Others, such as prescription or illegal opiates, may cause a driver to fall asleep while they are behind the wheel.
DRUGGED DRIVING STOPS
In order to stop you while you are driving in California, law enforcement officers must first have reasonable suspicion that you have committed some type of traffic violation. You may be pulled over for something such as a cracked taillight or something like driving erratically. After you have been stopped by an officer, he or she will get your information and talk to you about the reason you were stopped. During this time, the officer will be making observations of you and your behavior.
If the officer suspects that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she may ask you to do certain roadside tests. He or she can also arrest you and test you for the presence of drugs in your system, according to California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e).
GET HELP FROM A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Drugged driving arrests pose a major issue because it is difficult to determine the point at which a drug might impair a person. Some drugs, such as marijuana or prescription medications, may remain in a person’s blood at detectable levels for days. While you might test positive, that doesn’t especially mean you were impaired at the time you drove.
If you have been charged with a DUI of drugs, the importance of getting help from a criminal defense lawyer with a solid record in defending against such allegations cannot be underscored. Scott D. Henry is the leading DUI defense attorney in Riverside, San Bernadino and Orange County. To learn more about your rights and how we can help, call our office today and schedule your consultation.