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Driving under the influence of drugs

The consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol is very well-documented. It usually results in a suspension of a driver's license for one year if a driver is found to have a .08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or greater.

However, the rules when it comes to driving under the influence of illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine or heroin are less frequent discussed. Of course, the act of using such a drug is illegal in the first instance, so driving in addition can result in more serious consequences.

How is drugged driving measured?

Alcohol is a very controlled substance that is rapidly absorbed by the body; therefore, Breathalyzer tests can easily determine whether a person has recently consumed alcohol. However, in the case of drugs such as marijuana, measurable amounts of the drug can remain in the body for months. Therefore, the drug can be detected even if the driver that was tested is not under the influence of it.

Fifteen states have "per se" laws that penalize drivers that are found to have even the smallest amount of drug in their body, even if it is apparent that they have not taken the drug recently.

Is medical marijuana exempt from drugged driving laws?

Medical marijuana, although legal to take, should never be used before a person operates a vehicle. It can mean that the person is tired and overly relaxed, and this can result in extremely dangerous driving.

If you have been found to be driving with drugs in your system, it is very important that you take action so that you can defend yourself.

Source: FindLaw, "Driving Under the Influence of Drugs," accessed March 30, 2018

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