Everyone knows about drunk driving, but drugged driving is a more confusing phrase. While almost everyone knows the per se blood alcohol concentration limit of 0.08%, fewer people could succinctly explain what constitutes drugged driving, even if they know it can be dangerous.
Many people mistakenly think that drugged driving specifically involves people driving after using prohibited drugs, like marijuana or heroin. While that is certainly a concern, drugged driving also refers to the decision to get behind the wheel after taking prescription medication or sometimes even over-the-counter drugs available at the corner store.
Any substance that affects someone’s cognition, reaction time or alertness can impact their ability to safely drive.
Many popular medications affect people’s ability to drive
It doesn’t take much imagination to understand why narcotic painkillers and sleep medication are dangerous to take before you get behind the wheel. However, other medications that are dangerous for people to consume before they drive. Over-the-counter cold and flu medication can affect someone’s driving skills.
Anxiety medications like benzodiazepines, muscle relaxants and stimulants can all cause bodily reactions that impact someone’s driving skill. Diarrhea medicines, drugs for motion sickness, antidepressants and even anti-seizure drugs can also affect someone’s driving ability.
People who have to take medication should make arrangements to have someone else drive. Someone choosing to get behind the wheel after taking a medication that affects their driving ability puts everyone else at risk.
Drugged drivers hurt other people
Just like drunk driving, drugged driving is not a victimless crime. It has far-reaching consequences for everyone in modern society. Sometimes, those consequences can become personal.
Someone fighting off a cold could cause a crash that leaves you with a broken arm and months of unpaid leave from work. A person taking prescription pain relief medication could cause of fatal wreck that claims the life of someone in your immediate family.
Drugged drivers may face criminal charges if the police catch them or they cause a wreck. They are also often financially liable for the damages they cause to others with their unsafe behavior. Knowing your rights after a drugged driver causes a crash that negatively affects your family can help you hold them accountable and protect yourself from unfair long-term financial losses.