Is drugged driving the new drunk driving?

Law enforcement, non-profit organizations and even schools are diligent in informing individuals about the harmful effects of drunk driving. But what about drugged driving? Many people are not aware of the rules of driving with drugs in one's system.

In fact, in recent years, one in three drivers had drugs in their system at the time of their fatal crash. While marijuana is certainly a concern as it is one of the most commonly found drugs in drivers' systems, drugged driving encompasses all types of drugs that can alter your cognitive and/or motor function, like illicit drugs and prescription drugs.

Drugged driving: what is the issue?

Drunk driving only refers to the consumption of alcohol, and all alcohol has a similar effect on the brain and body when you consume enough. Drugged driving, however, can encompass hundreds of different drugs, all from different sources. Not all drugs that have the ability to impair drivers are illegal, such as prescription medication and even some over the counter medication.

  • Prescription drugs that affect driving: depression and anxiety drugs, codeine, sleeping pills, some pain relievers. These drugs can have a multitude of effects, like drowsiness, blurred vision and inability to focus, all which have significant impacts on safe driving.
  • Over-the-counter drugs that can affect driving: antihistamines, antidiarrheals, anti-emetics. These drugs often cause drowsiness, which can make it unsafe to drive.

This is not to say that you can never drive after consuming an antihistamine. The FDA cautions drivers to monitor the effects of a drug in one's system before heading out on the road. Dosage can also affect how much a drug inhibits one's driving ability.

Drugged driving is something to be aware of, as you can receive a DUI for driving after consuming drugs (both legal and illegal). Knowing which drugs affect you may help you avoid an accident or arrest.

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