The offense of driving under the influence, or DUI, typically relates to alcohol intoxication. But alcohol is just one of countless substances that can impair one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. Driving under the influence of drugs — including prescription medications as well as illegal drugs — can also bring DUI charges.
Mixing drugs and driving, whether it’s marijuana or legally prescribed muscle relaxers, is just as illegal as driving drunk and can also constitute a DUI offense. Doctor’s orders are no defense to drugged driving charges.
A 2010 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that roughly 10 million Americans drove under the influence of illegal drugs in the previous year. More than 18 percent of fatally injured drivers in tested positive for at least one illegal or prescription drug in 2009, according to
a study by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Another NHTSA survey found that one in five motorists killed in car crashes in 2009 tested positive for drugs.
Different drugs affect drivers in different ways. But those that impair
concentration or motor skills are considered just as (if not more) dangerous than alcohol.