Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
 

You’ve probably heard over and over again that you should not drink and drive. But what about driving on drugs?

Although comparatively overlooked, drugged driving is a very real and dangerous scenario. In 2018, it was estimated that 12.6 million people drove while under the influence of illicit drugs, with young adults age 21 to 25 as the biggest offenders.1 Just like driving drunk, driving under the influence of drugs can put people’s lives in danger.

The Dangers of Drugged Driving

Driving drunk is so dangerous because even small amounts of alcohol can impair a person’s reaction time, judgment, and attention. While the risks of drunk driving are well-publicized, a lot of people do not realize that driving under the influence of drugs can be just as dangerous.

Illicit drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin can all lead to powerful effects that can inhibit someone’s ability to drive safely. And these drugs are not the only substances of concern. Although recreational marijuana is legal in several states, driving while high on marijuana has several dangers. Studies show that driving while under the influence of marijuana, people were more likely to lane weave, had a poor reaction time, and had impaired attention.2 All of these effects could lead to an accident.

Even driving under the influence of prescription medications can be dangerous. Benzodiazepines, a tranquilizer, can lead to lethargy, drowsiness, and blurred vision. These effects lead to an increased risk of an accident while under their influence.3 Opioids are another prescription drug that can pose a threat to someone’s driving ability; their misuse has been shown to significantly increase the risk of fatal crashes.4

For people who abuse these drugs and have yet to seek prescription drug addiction treatment, their pill-popping could put their lives, and the lives of other drivers, in danger.

Even worse than driving drugged is driving drunk and drugged. In 2014, it was estimated that 5.9 million people drove while under the influence of both illicit drugs and alcohol.5 Mixing drugs and alcohol is risky on its own, but doing so and getting behind the wheel can be deadly. In some cases, it can exacerbate the effects of one substance. In other cases, it may mitigate the negative side effects of one of the substances, which can lead to someone feeling less intoxicated than they are. Regardless of exactly how these substances react with one another, this can be disastrous for someone trying to navigate a vehicle. And regardless of whether or not someone has drugs in their system, people who are unable to control their drinking habits may need alcohol abuse treatment.

Not only could someone’s substance use put people’s lives in danger, but it could also lead to a serious run-in with the law. Because of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs, several states have drug driving penalties. Pennsylvania itself has a drugged driving “per se” law that makes it illegal for someone to operate a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of drugs in their system.6

If you have gotten a DUI for drugs or alcohol, it may be time to take a long look in the mirror. While you may not want to admit that you have a problem, your substance use could be putting your life, as well as the lives of others, in danger. Instead of continuing to live with this risk, our Philadelphia, PA drug rehab could be what you need to regain control of your addiction.


If you or a loved one has a substance abuse problem, contact us today at 888-280-4763. At Banyan Philadelphia, we help people get their lives back on track.


  • SAMHSA- 2018 NSDUH Detailed Tables
  • Pub Med- Cannabis effects on driving skills
  • Pub Med- The relationship between benzodiazepine use and traffic accidents: A systematic literature review
  • NCBI- Prescription opioids, alcohol, and fatal motor vehicle crashes: a population-based case-control study
  • SAMHSA- DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL AND ILLICIT DRUGS
  • FindLaw- Per Se DUI Laws
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    Alyssa
    Alyssa
    Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.