Alcohol is no longer the only contributing factor for driving under the influence
Since the inception of the automobile, drunk driving has been one of the primary causes of auto accidents. The effects of alcohol on one’s driving abilities have long been researched, analyzed and disseminated through all types of media and news platforms. However, in recent years, drugged driving has become much more prevalent and led to a new awareness of the dangers of mixing drugs and driving. In 2014, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health polled millions of people and asked various questions about their drug use and habits. The startling results revealed that 10 million people over the age of 12 reported driving while under the influence of drugs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 18% of all drivers killed in a car crash had at least one drug present in their system at the time of the accident. However, in many cases, the presence of drugs may go undetected if the driver provides a breath sample that tests positive for alcohol. The only way to test for drugs is through a urine or blood sample. New Jersey’s implied consent law only applies to breath tests and does not require drivers to submit to more invasive testing.
If a person has both drugs and alcohol present in their system, it is often difficult to determine which substance caused the greatest impairment. The effects of drugs on a person’s body are not as well understood as alcohol. Many drugs impact people in very different ways and for varying lengths of time. The most common drugs associated with traffic accidents and offenses are:
- Prescription drugs particularly pain killers such as Vicodin and OxyContin and anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax and Valium
Prescription drugs, in particular, may pose an increased risk due to their delayed time-release characteristics. Taking a prescription drug in the morning may still pose a risk of impairment later in the afternoon. Taking any drugs in combination with alcohol also increases one’s level of impairment.
Regardless of whether your DUI charge is based on drugs or alcohol, the penalties remain the same. You may be required to pay significant fines, spend months in jail and lose your driving privileges for several months or even years.