Drugs and How They Impair the Ability to Drive

person with watch drinking beer while driving

The effect of drugs and driving

The expanding proliferation of over the counter medications, prescription drugs, legal and illegal recreational substances has led to a veritable explosion of drugged driving. Drugged driving like its more commonly known cousin drunk driving, occurs when a driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs. The insidious problem of drugged driving is that it is difficult for people to identify when their reactions or judgment is compromised.

No bright-line test

Unlike alcohol, there is no bright-line test for sobriety. As a result, drivers must rely on their subjective observations and impressions. This leaves open the possibility of drivers who honestly believe they are capable of driving but are in reality, compromised. As of yet, there is no consistent data collection or enforcement by the states. Some states prohibit operating vehicle under illegal substances and recreational marijuana but not prescriptions. Other states have a more expansive ban. The result of this mish-mash of regulations is that drivers and victims of these accidents are left in limbo.

Inconsistent effect on drivers

Another problem posed by drugs is that they affect different people in different ways. Some people after smoking marijuana experience hallucinations while others a nagging hunger feeling. Some people are completely immobilized by pain killers while others still a rendered catatonically sleepy. Moreover, the potency of the effects can change from dose to dose. The effect of drugs, both legal and illegal, on people is as various as the number of possible people that partake in them.

These disparate effects further complicate the picture for regulators, drivers and victims of these accidents. Can a driver who is unaware of the effect be held responsible if they cause an accident? These questions and more will be answered in the upcoming years by lawsuits and statutes alike.

Exploding variety of drugs

Finally, drivers are confronted by the greatest diversity of drugs known to man. The proliferation of over the counter, holistic remedies and prescription drugs to treat a variety of illnesses and syndromes has exploded in the past ten years. With such great diversity there is no way to reliably build a regulatory system that draws the line for safe operation of a vehicle.

Drugged driving is a growing problem that will only become more complicated as more states legalize recreational drugs.