There are many indications that drugs can affect driving skills, and most of these are similar to those present in drunk-driving situations. No DrugsThe White House has proclaimed December as National Drugged Driving Prevention Month, according to Frenkel & Frenkel, a Dallas law firm.  Despite the fact that Americans are becoming more aware of driving distractions, such as texting while driving, as well as the consequences of drinking and driving, many people forget that even prescribed and over-the-counter medications can result in a driving-under-the-influence arrest. Drugs and Driving According to a survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 16 percent of weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for some sort of drug, yet only 11 percent of them tested positive for illegal substances.  In 2009, a study by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS)reported that 3,952 drivers who were fatally injured tested positive for drugs, making the need for Drugged Driving Prevention Month even clearer.  Despite these drugged-driving statistics, legislation to prevent such practices have not kept up with alcohol-related driving legislations, as it is more difficult for law enforcement to obtain specific levels of impairment due to drug use than alcohol use.  The results of drug tests often take longer to show results than a simple blood alcohol content test. Effect on Driving Skills There are many indications that drugs can affect driving skills, and most of these are similar to those present in drunk-driving situations.  Reduced coordination, insufficient reaction time, risk-taking behaviors, an inability to avoid hazards, a lack of focus, and poor perception are all indications of possible drug use.  Drugged-driving prevention requires knowledge not only of law enforcement about the effects of different drugs on the human brain, but also driver education regarding how even legal and over-the-counter drugs can impair driving abilities. Over-the-Counter Medication Another purpose behind Drugged Driving Prevention Month is to make people aware that even over-the-counter medications can cause driver impairment.  Many states have passed laws that a driver is guilty of impaired driving only when there is a detectable level of a prohibited drug, such as marijuana or heroin, in the driver’s blood.  This means that a person who is impaired due to cold medicine or another product that caused impairment may not be charged with impaired driving.  Some states, however, have passed laws that define drugged driving as driving when a drug “renders the driver incapable of driving safely,” even if the drug is legally obtained through a doctor’s prescription or over-the-counter.  For this reason, drivers should be aware of the side effects of all medications they take before choosing to drive a vehicle. Frenkel & Frenkel hopes to bring awareness to the consequences of driving under the influence and is proud to promote Drugged Driving Prevention Month.  For more information, contact Frenkel & Frenkel, or fill out this form.


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