Most people are aware of the dangers involved with drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel, but less attention is devoted to highlighting the dangers involved with drug driving. Since taking drugs is illegal, it seems obvious that driving or riding a vehicle whilst under the influence would also be deemed illegal. Whilst you might be more worried about the drug possession charge, you should be aware that drug driving is a specific and separate offence and carries its own penalties.
It is Illegal to Operate a Vehicle Whilst Under the Influence of Drugs
Most people understand why it is illegal to drive a vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol, as it has long-documented effects on vision, reaction times and awareness. But using drugs has its own set of problems and these can be even more pronounced than those associated with drinking alcohol.
Drug drivers can suffer from slower reaction times, hallucinations, uncontrollable tremors, aggressive behaviour, paranoia and panic attacks. Marijuana users in particular may suffer from impaired concentration and reaction speeds and compensate by driving slowly. This provides a false sense of security as they imagine that they are unlikely to have an accident. In reality, a decreased desire to exert effort means that the driver will avoid essential tasks like overtaking, changing lanes and indicating effectively.
Users of cocaine typically become more aggressive and are more likely to take risks. Performing dangerous manoeuvres and losing control of the vehicle are common behaviours seen in drivers who use cocaine.
Being under the influence of ecstasy or MDMA whilst driving is extremely dangerous because these users tend to hallucinate, experiencing distorted vision and perception, impaired judgement, an inability to assess risk and extreme fatigue.
Once the effects of the drugs begin to wear off, the user may feel fatigued, which significantly impairs driving ability.
What Are the Penalties for Drug Driving?
The police are trained to look out for signs that indicate drug use, including erratic or aggressive driving, high-risk manoeuvres and excessive speed. If they pull over a vehicle for any reason, even if it is unrelated to driving behaviour, they are entitled to assess the driver’s ability to drive. They are well versed in identifying drug use.
If you are caught being under the influence of drugs whilst driving or riding a vehicle, you will lose your license for a minimum period of 12 months and be required to pay a fine of up to £5,000. When the driving ban is lifted, the drug driving charge will be detailed on the license for the next eleven years and this can be seen whenever it is necessary to produce a license, such as when applying for a job. You will also have a criminal record and may need to face charges of drug possession. With such a record, you may find it difficult to get car insurance or enter certain countries like the USA.
These are the minimums when it comes to penalties for drug driving and it is important to note that this is without considering what happens if you injure someone by driving under the influence. If you injure someone by driving dangerously you could receive a lengthy prison sentence.
The law prohibits driving under the influence of drugs and this includes prescription drugs as well. If you are unsure as to whether or not you can drive whilst taking prescription medication, the best thing to do is check with your pharmacist or doctor.
Kahmen Lee is a freelance writer who writes for www.bailbondsdirect.com in her spare time. She specialises in writing about issues with sociological implications such as drugs and violence.