When many people think of impaired driving, they think of drunk drivers. Alcohol is a common source of impairment but it isn’t the only one. Some drivers are impaired by other substances, including over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, and street drugs.
Many people don’t realize that they can face impaired driving charges even if they don’t consume alcohol or illegal drugs. Impaired driving simply means that some kind of drug in your system is making you an unsafe driver — and that can happen with almost any kind of medication.
What kinds of substances can cause this type of impairment?
Anything that makes you feel drowsy or dizzy can impair your ability to drive to the point that it’s a criminal act to try to drive. Over-the-counter and prescription medications usually have warnings on them that caution users not to drive until they know how it will affect them, but sometimes people mix a combo of drugs together and end up with unexpected side-effects. For example, you might be fine to drive on your allergy medication — until you add cough syrup into the mix.
Police officers will look for signs of impairment, such as swerving between lanes or straddling the centerline. Erratic braking and failing to use headlights from dusk to dawn are also signs of impairment. The officer will conduct a traffic stop if they see those or any other signs of impaired driving. If they find probable cause to arrest the driver, they will do so.
What should you do if you face a charge for drugged driving?
There are serious penalties for people who are convicted of impaired driving. It’s imperative that you get started on your defense strategy right away so that you know what options you have to address the charges. Your attorney can help you to learn about what’s possible so you can make decisions that you feel are in your best interests.