Drugged driving occurs when a person is stopped or arrested for driving a vehicle while under the influence of an illegal drug. State DWI and DUI laws make it illegal for a person to drive while under the influence of certain controlled substances. These include various illegal drugs, as well as some legal drugs and substances. Many fatal drunk driving cases actually involve a mix of drugs and some sort of illegal drug.
What Drugs Are Usually Involved in DUI Cases?
By far the most common type of drug in drugged driving cases is marijuana. This may be due to the fact that marijuana use (especially medical marijuana) is legal in some areas. However, just like alcohol use, a person cannot be driving if they’re under the influence of marijuana. Likewise, abuse of legal substances can also be considered an offense in terms of drugged driving.
Other drugs that are commonly present in a person’s system following a car crash or DUI arrest include:
- Powerful over-the-counter drugs
- Various prescription drugs such as oxycontin
The use of drugs while driving can be particularly dangerous if the drug makes the driver lose consciousness (such as heroin or certain opiate-based pain drugs). Also, drugs that alter one’s consciousness to the point where they have difficulty distinguishing reality (such as certain hallucinogens and stimulants) can cause serious problems for a driver.
What Are the Legal Penalties for Drugged Driving?
Penalties for drugged driving can be just as severe or more severe than those for alcohol-based DUI’s. Penalties may depend on factors such as:
- The type of drug involved
- Whether anyone was injured during the drugged driving
- Whether the drugged driving resulted in property damage
- Whether it is the person’s first offense or a repeat offense
Penalties for misdemeanor charges can involve criminal fines and/or short jail time. Penalties for felonies can involve higher fines and extended periods in jail. Drugged driving that causes death or serious injury will likely be filed as a felony.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Drugged Driving Case?
Drug driving cases can sometimes involve very serious criminal (and sometimes civil) consequences. You should hire a DUI/DWI lawyer if you need help with legal matters in court. Your attorney can advise you on your rights and can inform you of how to proceed with a legal strategy. Also, your lawyer can help research the drug laws in your area, as they are different from place to place.