Using drugs can make it unsafe to operate a vehicle, just like driving after consuming alcohol. Drugged driving is a widespread issue. An estimated 44% of motorists in deadly accidents test positive for drugs. In 2017, 12.8 million people drove while under the influence of illegal drugs.
Illicit, prescription and over the counter drugs can all impair your driving abilities in different ways and lead to criminal charges. It is helpful to know how different drugs can affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Some people use cocaine in order to mask fatigue, which they believe helps them drive better. However, cocaine also impairs judgment and concentration. Impairment of coordination and vision are also common side effects. Cocaine may also increase your likelihood of taking risks, giving in to impulses, acting aggressively and driving recklessly.
You may assume you are safe to drive after taking an OTC medicine for a cold, flu or allergies. But antihistamines can negatively impact your driving skills by causing drowsiness, impaired coordination and slow reaction time.
Cannabis can cause poor judgment, slow reaction time, inability to read signs, trouble perceiving distance and drowsiness. When people combine marijuana with alcohol, there can be even more impairment of coordination and reaction time.
Opiates, including heroin and opioid painkillers, can cause mental confusion, sedation and visual impairment.
Using amphetamines can impair vision and concentration. They may also increase risk-taking behavior.
Tranquilizing drugs, such as methadone, cause intense sedation, memory impairment, lack of coordination, altered perceptions and slow reaction time. These drugs can make it difficult to maintain a lane position and track objects.
Some antidepressant medications have a sedative effect that is similar to alcohol. These drugs may also increase the side effects of alcohol if consumed in coordination.
You should always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about driving after using any drug you take.