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Driving under the influence of drugs is a crime, whether your impairment is due to prescription medicine, illicit drugs, over-the-counter medicines, or marijuana – medical or recreational. Both your time and money are at stake if you’re convicted of a driving under the influence charge. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a driving under the influence violation might cost upwards of $10,000 for first-time offenders. The cost of a violation to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is about $13,500, including insurance hikes, attorney and legal expenses, restricted driving privileges, court days off from work to go to court, a criminal record, and more.

In 2018, 42% of all drivers who died in motor vehicle accidents and had their drugs tested positive for legal or illegal substances.

The percentage of drivers testing positive for drugs has been growing every year. Working together with our law enforcement partners, state and federal agencies, pharmaceutical and cannabis industry associations, concerned organizations, and advocates across the state, the California Office of Traffic Safety wants to raise awareness about the risks of drugged driving so that roadways can be kept safe.

What You Should Know About Drug-Impaired Driving: 

MEDICATIONS:

  • Over the last decade or so, more people in the United States have started to take more prescription and over-the-counter medicines that may impair driving. There’s a long list of over-the-counter medicines that can help to cure depression. Sleep aids, pain relievers, anti-depressants, stimulants, muscle relaxants, allergy medications, sedatives, anti-anxiety pills and many more are all included. After taking these medications, it is possible that they will be ineffective for many hours or even up to 24 hours.
  • Always double-check the label of any medication and contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions. It’s vital to take a prescription drug withdrawal seriously if you’re not going to drive, operate machinery, or suffer from any other physical or mental impairment.
  • Prescription drugs aren’t a valid excuse for driving while intoxicated, according to law.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA OR RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA:

California’s Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which permits individuals 21 and older to use and produce marijuana for personal use, went into effect on November 9. Smoking is still prohibited while driving a vehicle, anywhere that prohibits smoking tobacco and in all public places, even if you are lawfully permitted to smoke cannabis in your own home or at a business licensed for on-site marijuana consumption.

Marijuana has an impact on driving:

  • Slows down reaction time and the ability to make judgments. Marijuana influences the part of the brain that controls bodily movement, balance, and coordination, as well as judgment and memory. According to research, driving while high has a detrimental impact on attention, time perception, and speed. Memory impairment can hamper the ability to draw on prior driving experiences, especially in critical circumstances.
  • The higher you go, the more risks you take when driving. According to research, drivers with only a little amount of THC in their blood may experience the effects. They frequently try to be more cautious, driving at a slower rate than usual. However, when larger amounts of THC are detected in the blood, adverse effects increase. These types of drivers weave in and out of lanes more, take longer to respond to traffic lights and unforeseen obstructions, and are less aware of their speed. In general, marijuana in higher dosages impairs drivers more.

Marijuana’s effect peaks within the first 30 minutes after intake. People who get behind the wheel after using marijuana might have a 25 to 35 percent higher chance of crashing. The harmful impact increases rapidly and remains for some time. The majority of the adverse effects will go away after a few hours if marijuana is consumed instead of smoked.

Alcohol or marijuana use with medication:

Combining alcohol with marijuana or impairing prescription drugs is far more dangerous than using either one alone. Alcohol is a depressant that works by slowing down the central nervous system, delaying normal brain functioning. It reduces hand-eye coordination and how you process information. When marijuana or a long list of impairing prescription medications and illicit drugs are combined with alcohol, the combination can magnify both the body’s and brain’s effects.

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