Basics of drugged driving and how it is detected

Law enforcement in North Carolina and other parts of the country takes driving under the influence seriously. However, this activity doesn’t just relate to alcohol. It also concerns driving while under the influence of legal or illegal drugs, often referred to as drugged driving.

Why drugged driving is risky

Drugged driving can be as dangerous as alcohol depending on the type of drug. Some drugs act as depressants, which lower stimulation, and others act as stimulants that increase nervous activity and speed body function.

Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause drowsiness. Marijuana follows alcohol in the substances that cause the most impaired driving. When someone consumes alcohol with other substances, it commonly causes more lane weaving and slower reaction times. Cocaine and methamphetamine act as stimulants that tend to cause more aggressive driving.

Knowing the exact number of specific substances that cause impairment can be tricky since some people often mix drugs. However, studies have found small amounts of certain substances impair judgment.

Tests for drugged driving

Police officers need probable cause to believe a driver has been driving under the influence. They may administer several tests to check for alcohol or other substances in a driver’s bloodstream. Officers commonly use a Breathalyzer test to check Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) in addition to eye coordination and balance tests.

Most states have a legal limit of .08 and lower, but different limits apply to commercial drivers and underage drivers. Police usually take drivers who have more than this amount in their bloodstream into custody.

An officer could also check for drugs using a saliva test, which involves rubbing a stick on the tongue. Drivers who show a positive result must undergo a second test.

A DUI or drugged driving charge often leads to heavy fines and jail time. However, officers have been known to make mistakes. Drivers who think they have been treated unfairly or falsely accused have the right to hire an attorney.