Everyone has heard the phrase “Drunk Driving” and knows exactly what it is referring to—drivers, with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher, that get behind the wheel to drive. All fifty states have laws in place to protect the public from the sad risks of drunk driving.  Multiple national campaigns in recent years have drawn attention to the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol.  Organizations like MADD, have actively sponsored educational programs in our communities around the country about the dangers of DUI (Driving Under the Influence).

Drugged Driving

But have you heard the term “Drugged Driving” before?  Drugged driving is when someone is under the influence of prescription drugs, OTC (over the counter) medications, and/or illegal drugs.  It also includes the use of illicit or misuse of prescription drugs with alcohol.  Prescribed medications come with pharmaceutical warning labels explaining physical and cognitive side effects. Unfortunately, illicit drug-use does not.  All medications differ in how they affect the brain, gross and fine motor skills.  Medical professionals use judgment in dosage and combinations suitable to the prescribed symptoms and needs. Regardless, the use and proper consumption is out of their hands, when the script leaves their office.

Persons found abusing these medications in any combination of amounts and cocktails can be harmful, even deadly, behind the wheel!  The rapid increase in the abuse of prescription drugs, pain killers, and OTC medications has created a huge drug epidemic in our country that has even motivated the MADD campaign to revise their mission state to reflect this growing problem. “The mission of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking.”

With the use of marijuana now legal in several states– it has become the most common drug, after alcohol, found in the systems of those involved in impaired driving accidents.  Drug-use can cause dizziness or drowsiness to gradually increase, as the substances continue to metabolize, preventing the inebriated driver from safely operating a vehicle. And like illicit drug-use, marijuana not only slows the body’s coordination and reaction time, it impairs judgment and vision.  Every car and person coming near the impaired driver is at peril of life and limb—no exaggeration here, folks! Statistics and gory stories fill the media sites daily.  Drugged driving not only puts the driver in danger, but ALL passengers, and anyone who shares the road at RISK!

Law enforcement carries equipment to readily test inebriation; and any kind of alcohol level over the legal limit can result in the automatic issuance of a DUI.  Breathalyzers used for alcohol testing in the field do not have the ability to check for other levels of drugs in their system though. Therefore, it is difficult to determine which drugs or combination of drugs are also influencing an alcohol sobriety test in the field, until medical professionals are able perform toxicology tests.  What IS known, is that approximately 30% of traffic-related deaths are caused by someone Driving Under the Influence (DUI).   One NHTSA study found that 18% of drivers that died in a crash tested positive for at least one drug.

We can never be too careful in our travels or decisions to consume. If “Just One Drink” or “Just One Joint” can cost just ONE life….and that is one life TOO many!

What safety steps can individuals take?

Whenever your social plans involve alcohol and/or drugs, make plans so that you don’t have to drive while impaired. For example:

  • Before drinking, designate a non-drinking driver in your group.
  • Don’t let your friends drive impaired.
  • If you have been drinking or using drugs, get a ride home or call a taxi. Safety first!
  • If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, remind your guests to plan ahead and designate their sober driver; offer alcohol-free beverages, and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident or by someone issued a DUI, don’t hesitate to contact today.