Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Not only is it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol (or alcohol and combined with drugs), it is also illegal to drive influence of drugs by themselves, whether prescription or over-the-counter.

How is driving under the influence of drugs proven?

In cases involving drinking and driving, it is illegal to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more.  Although some disagree, the general consensus is that driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more is not safe because at that level most people’s driving ability is impaired.

But when it comes to driving under the influence of drugs, we are less sure of how much of a particular drug affects a person’s ability to drive. As a result, currently there is no “magic number” at which a person is considered to be guilty of driving under the influence of drugs.  (The California has considered, but not enacted, a law making it illegal to drive with any amount of certain drugs in one’s system.)

As a result, to prove a person is driving under the influence of a drug, the prosecutor must show that the drug used actually impaired your driving to “an appreciable degree.”  Since the level of  impairment caused by drugs cannot yet be reliably determined by a chemical test, actual impairment can be proven in court by expert testimony, the testimony of a police officer who witnessed erratic driving, and other factors.

Chemical testing for driving under the influence of drugs

A breath cannot be used to detect the presence or quantity of drugs present in one’s system.

If you are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, your chemical test choices are limited to a blood or a urine test.

Penalties for driving under the influence of drugs

Penalties for driving under the influence of drugs are essentially the same as for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Of course, if you are found to be in possession of illegal drugs at the time of an arrest for DUI drugs, you can face additional serious charges for possessing those drugs.

Driving while addicted to a drug

Many people are unaware that it is also illegal to drive while addicted to a drug, unless you are participating in a narcotic treatment program.

A person is considered addicted when he or she:

(1) Has become physically dependent on the drug, suffering withdrawal symptoms if deprived of it;

(2) Has developed a tolerance to the drug’s effects and therefore requires larger and more potent doses; and

(3) Has become emotionally dependent on the drug, experiencing a compulsive need to continue its use.”