The Dangers of Drugged Driving
While marijuana is currently illegal under federal law, Michigan, along with nine other states have legalized the use of recreational marijunana on a statewide level. In addition to the 10 states that have legalized marijuana, several more states allow marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes. Although legal use of marijuana is becoming more common around the United States, it’s important to remember that driving while under the influence of marijuana is still illegal everywhere.
The term “driving under the influence” doesn’t just apply to alcohol, it also includes being under the influence of drugs. Decades of research has proven that driving while under the influence of alcohol is extremely dangerous, but there is less awareness around the dangers of driving while under the influence of marijuana and other types of drugs. Just as alcohol can impair a person’s judgement and slow down their reaction times, some drugs (both legal and illegal) can affect drivers in ways that put themselves and others on the road in danger.
How a drug impairs a driver’s ability to safely be on the road depends on the exact type of drug involved. A driver under the influence of marijuana can have slower reaction times, reduced coordination, and a more difficult time judging time and distance. Some types of prescription medications can cause drowsiness that leads to people falling asleep behind the wheel. Cocaine and amphetamines, on the other hand, can lead to more aggressive and reckless behavior on the road. Psychedelic drugs can result in hallucinations, poor coordination, and blurred vision.
While there is a legal limit for drunk driving, it’s much harder for law enforcement officials to determine a threshold that is officially considered “too high to drive.” Not only does the term “drugged driving” encompass so many different types of drugs that impact people differently, there’s also the fact that many people tend to mix drugs with alcohol and other substances, which can change the way a drug impacts a person.
It’s also more difficult to determine exactly how widespread of a problem drugged driving is. Programs for roadside testing for drugs are still being developed and since some drugs can stay in your system long after the physical effects of the drug have worn off, it’s not easy to determine exactly when a drug was taken. Despite those challenges, there has been research into the subject. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse,12.8 million people aged 16 and older drive after using illicit drugs in 2017. In 2016, data from the Governors Highway Safety Association found that 43.6% of drivers involved in fatal car crashes who were tested for drugs tested positive.
As a rule of thumb, if a substance makes you feel differently, it will make you drive differently. If you were injured in an accident with a drugged driver, be sure to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will be able to help answer all of your questions and better understand your legal options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have attorneys very experienced in helping the victims of Michigan car accidents. Contact us today to get started.