Most people know that drunk driving is dangerous. People can get seriously hurt, and lives can be lost. When it comes to drug-impaired driving, however, there is not the same level of awareness. Not everyone knows that driving impaired by drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, is illegal can lead to an arrest for DUI.
In recent years, more and more states have legalized marijuana. As a consequence, there has been an increase in THC-positive drivers on the road. Some of this is attributed to ignorance regarding the risks of driving high or impaired. Focus groups have revealed that marijuana users think they are safer drivers when they use marijuana. In addition, many do not think they can be charged with DUI for marijuana.
The drug-impaired driving problem is much broader than marijuana. There are some serious misconceptions about driving under the influence of prescription and over the counter drugs:
- If a drug is legal, it isn’t dangerous to drive.
- If a medication is over the counter or prescribed, it isn’t impairing.
- If my doctor gave it to me to improve my health, it won’t endanger me when driving.
Many legal medications have side effects and can impair driving by causing drowsiness, altering visual functions and affecting mental judgment and motor skills. Medications known to impact driving include: opioids, cough medicines, antihistamines, decongestants, sleep medicines and some antidepressants.
Drivers should avoid driving while under the influence of any type drug, just as if they consumed alcohol. Senior drivers need to be especially aware, as many are prescribed multiple medications.
Driving impaired by drugs is illegal in every state. Law enforcement is raising awareness to save lives from drug-impaired driving with campaigns such as “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different” and “Drive High, Get a DUI.” Meanwhile, the National Safety Council is pushing for better data collection on police reports that could shed more light on the scope of drug-impaired driving. For instance, of the eight states that have decriminalized recreational marijuana use, Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington police officers can record positive marijuana results from drug tests. Also, only 18 states include marijuana, cannabinoids or cannabis fields under drug test results.
A personal injury lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona can help victims of accidents involving driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Victims can be advised about possible compensation for injuries, medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, since the collision and for the future. The consultation with the attorney should be free, there should be no fees unless a settlement is obtained.
Thanks to the Law Office of Paul Englander, PLC for their insight into personal injury claims and accidents involving drugs and impaired driving.