College students sometimes use medications and other substances to cope with the stresses of student life. While this might not be an issue alone, it can become a major problem if you take anything and then drive. You might believe that impaired driving is limited to alcohol, but this isn’t the case.
It is possible to face criminal charges if you are impaired for any reason when you are driving. Alcohol is easy to prove because of the blood alcohol concentration tests. Other substances might be harder to prove but this doesn’t mean it is impossible.
Challenges for testing for other substances
One issue that comes with trying to test for other substances is that they often remain in the body for longer than they cause impairment. A person can test positive for something like marijuana or heroin but not actually be impaired by it while they are driving.
Police officers can rely on standardized field sobriety tests to determine whether a person is impaired. However, this won’t let them know the source of the impairment. They might also use drug recognition experts to determine whether a person is impaired. Often, they will talk to the person about what they did prior to getting behind the wheel. This is a good time to remember your rights.
Substances that can cause impairment
Illegal substances can cause impairment, but there are many that are legal that can do the same thing. Taking allergy medication, even an over-the-counter version, or muscle relaxers can lead to being too impaired to drive. When taking a new medication, you should determine how the substance will impact you before you drive. If you notice that you are dizzy, tired or slow to react, you shouldn’t drive after taking the medication or drug.
Even if your doctor prescribed the medication to you, prosecution is still possible. You shouldn’t assume that you are safe to drive even though your doctor told you to take the medication. These criminal charges are based on an inability to drive safely, and driving isn’t a mandatory action in this country.
If you are pulled over for the suspicion of impaired driving, you should make mental notes about what happens during the stop and after. This might come in handy as you are preparing for your defense if criminal charges are levied against you.