How Drugs Affect Driving

For most people, when they hear the acronym “DUI,” they immediately think of a driver who has gotten behind the wheel of a vehicle drunk. This person has a blood alcohol content higher than the legal limit (0.08 percent) and if they are convicted, they usually face loss of license, fines, and potential jail time. A person who is driving drunk puts all those around them in danger because alcohol affects the driver’s ability to judge speed and distance, as well as impair the driver’s ability to be fully aware of the environment around them.

But it is not just alcohol that can result in a driving under the influence charge. Drivers who are under the influence of drugs are also a danger to themselves and other commuters on the road. Whether the drug is a prescription, recreational, or illegal drug, there is a high probability it will impede your ability to drive safely. The following are four of the most common drug categories and how they affect driving ability.

Marijuana: Since marijuana is a depressant (like alcohol), it actually slows your central nervous system and that is what provides the feeling of being relaxed that users describe. Marijuana can impact a person’s ability to make safe decisions when they are driving, as well as evaluate any dangers in the road.

Opioids:  Whether a person is taking opioids because they are legally prescribed or they are taking them illegally, the dangerous effect is the same. Drugs in this category include hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, and heroin. These drugs are also depressants that slow down the central nervous system. This leads the driver taking the opioid to suffer from drowsiness, have slower reaction times, have difficulty processing information, and pay attention to the road and all that is going on around them.

Stimulants: Stimulants have the opposite effect of depressants and can often leave a driver feeling too overconfident, potentially creating dangerous situations. For example, a driver under the influence of stimulants could feel as if they don’t have to pay attention to the speed limit and go racing down the highway, putting themselves and other drivers in peril. Drivers may also become aggressive and begin lane jumping or tailgating. Drugs that fall under this category include cocaine, Adderall, and Ritalin.

Sleeping Medication: Medication that help people sleep is available in both prescription and over-the-counter form. Both types can be dangerous when taken by a driver. Some medications can even affect the person the next day, after they have had a full night’s sleep. Some side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, difficulties with memory and attention, and uncontrollable shaking.

If you have been charged with DUI, contact a lawyer, like a DUI lawyer in Denver, CO, from Richard J. Banta, P.C., to find out how they can help defend you against these charges. Contact a law office for a free and confidential consultation.

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