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Drugged Driving: A Common Mistake

With the prevalence of anti-drinking and driving campaigns funded by law enforcement agencies and the federal government, it’s safe to say that all drivers in the U.S. are aware that drinking and driving can lead to a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction.

Most, but not all, drivers also know that it’s against the law to drive while under the influence of marijuana and other illegal drugs, such as methamphetamine, LSD, heroin, and cocaine. But still, the vast majority of DUI prosecutions are alcohol-related.

A percentage of DUI cases do not involve alcohol at all, but instead involve marijuana, another illegal drug, or even a lawfully prescribed medication. Under VC Section 23152(e), it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of any drug, whether it’s medical marijuana from a dispensary or the Benadryl you bought from Target or Walgreens.

VC Sec. 23152(e) is all encompassing, so this means that you can face DUI drug charges, even if you are caught driving under the influence of a prescription medication.

Even if you are on a prescription drug that was lawfully prescribed by your doctor, socially acceptable, and medically necessary, if the drug impaired your ability to drive safely, you can be prosecuted for DUI. The same goes for medical marijuana – the DUI rules apply to all drugs, legal and illegal.

Clues that a Drug Can Impair Driving

Are you on a drug that warns against operating heavy machinery? If so, take that as a sign that you should designate a driver.

While the effects of drugs differ depending on how the specific drug acts affects the brain, many drugs, specifically sedatives (benzodiazepines) cause drowsiness and dizziness, which lead to traffic collisions. The following drugs are recognized for impairing one’s ability to drive safely:

  • Prescription opioids, a class of powerful pain relievers, such as OxyContin and Vicodin.
  • Prescription sedatives, tranquilizers and depressants (slow brain activity), such as Nembutal, Luminal, Xanax, Valium, Lunesta, Sonata, and Ambien.

We only mentioned a small number of prescription drugs that impair driving because there are too many prescription drugs that impair driving ability to list. If you are taking a drug that makes you experience drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, or confusion, you should NOT drive while the medication is in your system.

To learn more about how various drugs affect the brain, read these drug facts from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Arrested for DUI drugs in Orange County?

If you are facing DUI drug charges in Orange County, you need an aggressive defense. We urge you to contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. to speak with our Board Certified DUI defense specialist, who is also a proud member of the National College for DUI Defense!