Whenever you hear the phrase driving under the influence, your mind usually thinks of one thing: alcohol. However, a DUI encompasses much more than that. It includes other illegal drugs like marijuana and narcotics, and to some people's surprise, it can even include legal prescription drugs. As long as a drug alters the way you operate a motor vehicle, it can get you pulled over for a DUI/DWI charge.
What Drugs Alter Your Driving?
There are numerous substances that will affect the way you drive. In 2020, 56% of people involved in serious or fatal car accidents had at least one drug in their system. Avoid any of the following drugs before you get behind the wheel so you don't become another statistic.
Alcohol is the number one cause of DUI-related deaths in the United States. Over 11,650 people died in alcohol-related accidents in 2020, which is a 14% increase from 2019. This means one person dies every 45 minutes due to drunk driving. Otherwise, over 290,000 people were injured in 2020 due to drunk driving. If you've had too much to drink, don't be afraid to call a ride-sharing service or taxi. It's not worth putting your or innocent bystanders' lives at risk by driving drunk.
As more and more states legalize marijuana, the rates of people driving under the influence of it are rising as well. A study done in 2022 by the Columbia University School of Public Health showed that two out of five users of both alcohol and cannabis drove under the influence of either one or both of these substances at the same time. The study also states that between 2016 and 2019, 20% of the same drivers reported getting a DUI while using cannabis, while 14% got a DUI while under the influence of both.
Since cannabis stays in the system for up to a month, it is hard to tell exactly how recently people who received a DUI have actually used it. Never drive while you're high.
One in 20 adults in the U.S. admits to driving within two hours of taking prescription drugs that cause impairment. Depending on the drug, they can cause dizziness, drowsiness, nauseousness, slow your reaction time, and lessen your coordination. These side effects are very similar to those caused by alcohol.
When you start taking any new drug, wait and see how it affects you before you get behind the wheel. Be sure to check all of the warning labels for statements involving operating heavy machinery or driving a vehicle.
What Can Cause You To Get Pulled Over for a DUI/DWI?
Police officers may suspect you are driving under the influence when they notice a few telltale signs:
Going above or below the speed limit
Following the center line
Violating traffic laws
Any of these reasons are good enough for an officer to pull you over. But the real issue is that you commit these violations due to impaired judgment from being under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Never Use Drugs Before Getting Behind the Wheel
Whether you had too many drinks at the bar, decided to get high and wanted food, or are on a prescription drug that affects your reactions, never get behind the wheel while under the influence. It's not worth the risk to you and the others whose lives may be permanently altered by your reckless decision.
Another way to keep yourself safe and avoid other drivers who are under the influence is to sign up for a defensive driving course at IDriveSafely.com. Our course will teach you all of the ways to stay safe through defensive driving.