Driving Under the Influence: Everything You Should Know

Our festive frivolities can be a wonderful thing, but in some cases, they can have risky consequences.  Mostly in cases when we decide to drive under the influence afterward. These risks are just not worth taking – it’s not only about your own safety but also the safety of anyone else using the road, not to mention the possibility of major legal problems. 

If you don’t remember the days when people didn’t know how anti-drunk laws should work or even if they’re necessary, you can check out that piece of history on the Gizmodo website. What complicates a bit the DUI story is the fact that history is repeating itself with cannabis. Since it’s legal in the majority of states to some extent it’s overall use has grown in the past 10 years. But there is no evidence that its use in these states has contributed to more fatal crashes in any way. 

What Are The Effects?

There’s no doubt that our ability to judge situations and respond in a suitable manner can be significantly affected by alcohol and drugs. Staying focused on the road becomes hard, reaction times increase. Above all, lower performance on complex tasks is practically guaranteed and driving is one of the most complex psychomotor tasks in everyday life. 

Since cannabinoid receptors are very prevalent in the part of the brain which governs motor and cognitive functions, there’s no doubt that cannabis can equally impact our driving abilities. Nevertheless, the level of overall impairment depends on the dose of THC. According to 10 buds, at low to moderate doses of THC, drivers are still able to adequately assess traffic and the risks involved with driving, and they still retain the awareness to operate brakes and keep a safe distance between other vehicles. 

The Law Standpoint

This one is pretty clear – driving when impaired by any substance, legal or illegal, is an offense. The US legal limit concerning those over 21 is that blood alcohol level must be below 8mg per 100ml of blood. Nevertheless, it’s important to know that alcohol affects everyone differently, based on factors such as metabolism and weight, so avoiding alcohol altogether when planning to drive is definitely safer.

As for drug driving, there were no specific levels set until recently. But since this problem has been on the rise in the last few years strict limits are now set and you can check them out on ADT healthcare website. You’ll notice that there are limits for drugs that are already illegal, which may seem strange at first glance. But drugs such as amphetamines can be found in legal medications, and now police don’t have to prove impairment when they pull over drivers. 

Even if you’re not technically driving, all these rules still apply. They are in place as long as you’re in charge of a vehicle, meaning that being under the influence inside your car even when it’s not moving – just sitting or sleeping – still counts. 

How Can They Get You And What Can You Get

As far as drunk driving goes, the police are using various methods such as breathalyzers and field impairment assessment which test your judgment and balance (walking in a straight line or standing on one leg). Drug driving is a bit different and many people still think that there’s no new testing equipment available. But, while there are officers who still rely on urine or blood samples, there is new screening equipment which can trace drugs such as cannabis or cocaine from saliva. If you refuse to provide a sample this could lead to further penalties, and even if your samples turn out below the limit you can still be charged since police can judge your driving to be impaired nevertheless. 

If you’re caught you can get a driving ban, a fine, but also prison time, depending on how strict the state laws are. Causing death or harm to others while driving under the influence will definitely get you in prison for up to 14 years and there are talks of extending the sentence to life. Ending up with lighter penalties doesn’t mean they can’t have wrong term consequences, such as issues with your license and insurance. 

As you can see, the legal status of the substance doesn’t change the fact that driving under the influence is an offense.  There are strict limits for very substance now, and there’s new technology to measure them. Although there are factors such as the level of THC in case of cannabis and the legal percentage of alcohol in the blood, keep in mind that we all react to these substances differently. 

Author: Brandon Park