Alcohol-related accidents are no rare event, and thousands of people in Georgia are involved in DUI accidents each year, many with fatal consequences. Law enforcement and safety advocates have pressed for stricter laws and heavier penalties to deter drivers from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. However, there is a more sinister danger than alcohol on the roads these days.
Drugged driving is quickly becoming as common and dangerous as drunk driving. Surveys show that about 10 million drivers in the U.S. admit to operating a vehicle under the influence of illegal substances. As more and more Americans take opioid prescriptions for pain management, it is certain that number is higher. If you are facing charges for driving under the influence of drugs, you have a right to be concerned about your future.
Drugged driving charges can be complex
About 20 percent of drivers who die in traffic accidents test positive for one or more prescription or illegal drugs. That percentage is the result of blood tests performed routinely following fatal accidents. The problem is that determining whether you have drugs in your system is not easy for law enforcement at the scene of an arrest or accident. Drugged-driving presents a much more complicated legal situation than alcohol impairment for numerous reasons, including:
- The signs of alcohol impairment are relatively uniform, but each type of drug may present different symptoms.
- There are hundreds of legal and illegal substances a driver may have consumed, each designed to react differently in a person's body.
- Many drivers combine drugs or mix drugs and alcohol, which may alter or mask the signs of impairment.
- Some drugs remain in your body for days or weeks after you are no longer impaired and may show up as positive results on a blood or urine test.
- Only a few police officers have special training for recognizing the symptoms of drug-impaired driving.
- Medical marijuana use is not an excuse for driving impaired, and you may not realize that police may still charge you with DUI even if you have a medical exemption for marijuana.
The same is true for prescription drugs that cause impairment. Even if you have a doctor's order for an opioid painkiller that makes you drowsy or diminishes your reflexes, you may face charges for driving while drug-impaired. Law enforcement takes drugged driving very seriously, and you should know that there is much at stake if you are convicted for DUI related to prescription or illegal drugs. Seeking legal assistance from the earliest moments after you arrest is a wise move for protecting your rights and your future.