Drug-impaired driving is a problem on America’s highways. Like drunk driving, drugged driving is impaired driving - which means it is dangerous and illegal in all 50 States, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. Whether the drug is legally prescribed or illegal, driving while drug-impaired poses a threat to the driver, vehicle passengers, and other road users.
NHTSA wants to spread the word about drug-impaired driving and to remind all drivers: If you are impaired by drugs and thinking about driving, pass your keys on to a sober driver.
Drivers must never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This not only means refraining from drunk driving, but also from drug-impaired driving. NHTSA’s 2013/14 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Driversfound that nearly one in four weekend drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could impair their ability to drive safely.
It doesn’t matter what term is used, if a person is high, stoned, wasted, or drunk, he or she is impaired. Driving while impaired by any substance is illegal and can be deadly to the driver and other road users. It’s that simple.
If you think driving while high won’t affect you, you are wrong: It has been proven that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s psychological effects—slows reaction times, impairs cognitive performance, and makes it more difficult for drivers to keep a steady position in their lane. This is a deadly combination.
Something as simple as cold medication or an over-the-counter sleep aid could impair your driving. If it does, you will be arrested for a DUI.
If you are taking a new prescription drug or a higher dose of a current prescription drug, do not drive until you know what effect it has on your judgement, coordination, and reaction time. Any effect could impair your driving ability.
If your doctor writes you a new prescription or increases a current dosage, be sure to discuss with the doctor whether you should drive while taking the medication, or be sure to ask the pharmacist when you pick up the prescription. Remember, If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. Give your keys to a sober friend.
Always tell your doctor of any drugs you are taking (prescription, over-the-counter, and illegal) so they may accurately counsel you on whether it is safe to drive while taking them.
Certain medications may not impair you on their own, but if taken with a second medication or with alcohol, they may cause impairment. Any form of impaired driving is illegal.
Play It Safe
If a driver has ingested an impairing substance, such as prescription drugs, sleep medication, marijuana, or any form of illegal drug, he or she should not drive. Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car.
If you are drug-impaired, pass the key to a sober driver who can safely drive you to your final destination. Like drunk driving, it is essential that drug-impaired drivers refrain from driving a vehicle. It is never okay to drive while impaired by any substance.
Have a friend who is about to drive while impaired by drugs? Take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone—they’ll thank you later.
Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices: (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nhtsa.SaferRide&hl=en), and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices: (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/saferride/id950774008?mt=8). SaferRide allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend, and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up.
Use a safe driving service like Uber or a Lyft.
If you see an impaired driver on the road, call 911 to report them.
DUI violations are not just for drunk driving. Remember, any impairment, including drugs, is illegal if you are operating a vehicle. On average, a DUI can set you back $10,000 in attorney fees, fines, court costs, lost time at work, higher insurance rates, car towing and repairs, and more. If you are driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, you could be arrested for a DUI. Do not drive. If You Feel Different, You Drive Different.
For more information, visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov.