Prescription Drugs are Not Exempt from DUI Penalties
Tiger Woods is one of the latest high-profile people to be arrested for driving under the influence. In his case, he was using drugs that were legally prescribed to him after a recent back surgery. But, in the court of law, using a legal drug does not mean you are legally able to drive.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drugged driving arrests have doubled over the past 10 years. This may be because of an increase in use or an increase in testing capability by law enforcement, but it does highlight the need for precaution when using pain medications prescribed by a doctor.
A recent study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association showed that 43% of drivers involved traffic related deaths tested positive for illegal or prescription drugs, while only 37% were under the influence of alcohol. Although this could indicate that the problem is increasing, there are two problems with this study. First, is that the co-sponsor of this study was the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a non-profit funded by alcohol companies. The other problem is that impairment is much harder to detect in drug tests than in alcohol tests. For example, the most common drug detected in this study was marijuana, which can remain in the bloodstream for weeks after the effects of the drug wear off.
In Georgia, it is against the law to drive under the influence of any drug that makes it less safe for you to be behind the wheel. In other words, if you are impaired from driving safely and a police officer has reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of any drug, you are at risk of arrest for a DUI. The laws are very strict and an officer with reasonable suspicion that a driver is less safe can arrest someone for a DUI, even if the driver thinks the effects of the drug have worn off.
The bottom line, drugged driving is drunk driving – find someone to drive you where you need to go.