Typically, if someone talks about getting charged with driving under the influence, he or she is referring to alcohol. However, it’s very important to note that you can also get a DUI for being under the influence of drugs, even when you’ve had nothing to drink. Many things that impair your ability to drive could bring about charges.
Some experts have even noted that drugs that you got and used legally could still get you in trouble if you drive. For example, you may be able to use medical marijuana legally in Maryland, where it can be prescribed by a doctor; in fact, the first clinic for medical marijuana opened its doors in Annapolis just last year. If you use it and drive, though, you’re breaking the law.
The same can be true for some muscle relaxers, painkillers and other drugs. Don’t assume you’ll be able to point to the doctor’s orders to get out of the charges.
Back in 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration carried out a survey to find out how often people drove under the influence of illegal drugs. What they discovered was that about 10 million Americans had done so.
Other studies backed up the claims of high usage rates. For instance, over 18 percent of drivers who were killed in accidents, and who were tested for drugs after the crash, came up positive. This data comes from 2009, and it was compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA carried out another survey and discovered that around 20 percent of motorists who died triggered positive tests.
As you can see, a DUI is not just for alcohol use, though that is the most common way the term is used. If you’re facing one for any reason, especially if you didn’t realize you were breaking the law, you must know your legal options.
Source: FIndLaw, “Driving Under the Influence of Drugs,” accessed Aug. 02, 2016