You don’t have to be drunk or on illegal drugs to be charged with a DUI. Believe it or not, driving under the influence of perfectly legal drugs is still driving under the influence of drugs. When it comes to substances, the dose makes the poison, no matter what substance is involved.
When taken in great quantities, legal drugs become illegal. And driving under the influence of painkillers, cough medicine, or other medicines is just as illegal as driving under the influence of any narcotic you’d care to name. If you take over-the-counter medications, you need to be aware of those medications’ effects on your mind. Do not drive your car if you are under the influence of any kind of drug.
Driving Under the Influence of Legal Drugs is Dangerous
When you drive under the influence of drugs—prescription, over the counter, or otherwise—you threaten the lives of everyone on the road: your life, your passengers’ lives, and the lives of every other driver and passenger on the road. This behavior is reckless, selfish, embarrassing, and deranged. You are placing your base pleasures above the lives of hundreds of innocent people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 18% of motor vehicle deaths involve drugs other than alcohol. This statistic does not make a distinction between legal and illegal drugs. That’s because there is no distinction between legal and illegal drugs when the legal drugs are used in excess.
When you’re drugged, your mind is incapacitated. Drugs warp your perception of reality, and reality includes the road. If you can’t interpret traffic properly, you can’t drive.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that excessive use of cough syrup “acts on the same cell receptors as dissociative hallucinogenic drugs like PCP or ketamine.” You wouldn’t drive on PCP, would you? Don’t drive under the influence of cough syrup.
DUI of Legal Drugs is Still Illegal
If the danger of driving under of influence of legal drugs isn’t enough to keep you from hitting the roads, maybe the legal repercussions will.
The police have a duty to protect the public and keep the roads safe. As part of this duty, the police will arrest you if they catch you driving under the influence of any kind of drugs, legal or not. There’s a basic DUI law in the same way that there is a basic speed law; if you are too doped up to drive safely, you’re breaking the law. It’s not a matter of specific levels of chemicals in your blood.
According to Andrade Law Offices, “anyone who drives a vehicle while impaired by any substance can be arrested and charged with a DUI.” They also point out that the law does not discriminate for social class. A doctor who heads out to the highway doped up on prescription medications is no better than the street tough who amps himself up on methamphetamines and hurls his truck into a restaurant patio. Reckless driving as the result of chemical abuse is reckless driving as the result of chemical abuse. No one has an excuse.