Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Driving a motor vehicle after taking a prescription medication or a non-prescription drug like marijuana can lead to an arrest for driving under the influence of drugs or DUID. In the case of a prescription medication that has been prescribed by a doctor, you should not assume that you are immune from being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. Just because a doctor prescribed the medication that you are taking, does not mean that you are capable of operating a motor vehicle safely while you are on that medication.

It does not matter which state you live in, if you are stopped by the police on suspicion of DUI and found to have consumed either a prescription medication or a non-prescription drug like marijuana and it has affected your ability to operate a motor vehicle safely, you will be arrested for driving under the influence of drugs.

Depending on which state you live in, the level of illegal drugs or prescription drugs allowed in a person’s system while driving varies. For example in Michigan a person stopped with any measurable amount of drugs in their system will be arrested for DUID.



It is estimated that drug related driving under the influence cases result in roughly 18% of all traffic related deaths in the United States each year. Studies have shown that male drivers are twice as likely to be involved in drug related accidents as female drivers.

If an officer observes a person driving erratically and suspects the person may be under the influence, a DUI stop will be initiated. In most states if the officer who initiated the stop suspects that the person stopped may be under the influence of drugs, the officer will radio dispatch and request that an officer with special drug recognition experience be dispatched to the scene, if the officer who initiated the stop is not a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE).

If after observing the person and performing some preliminary testing, the Drug Recognition Expert suspects that the person is indeed under the influence of drugs, the officer will request the person to submit to a blood or urine test to check for the presence of drugs in their system. The blood test will check for the presence of a wide array of prescription and non-prescription drugs including:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Ecstasy
  • Meth
  • ICE
  • And all prescription and over-the-counter drugs known to affect a person’s motor functions.

Before the officer who initiated the stop requests that you submit to a blood or urine test to screen for drugs, he or she may request that you submit to a PBT or preliminary breath test to check to see if there is any alcohol in your system. If you have consumed alcohol, but your BAC level is less than .05% you will not be arrested for a DUI offense involving alcohol, but you could still be facing a DUID arrest. Depending on which state the offense occurred in, for example in Colorado you could be facing a DWAI offense if your BAC level is between .05% and the legal limit of .08%. It should be noted that no matter what state you live in the legal limits can be changed at anytime.

In a state where the accused is given a choice between either a breath or blood test, if the officer suspects that you have been consuming drugs you will be subject to either a blood or urine test. If the officer chooses the urine test, you are at a disadvantage because the length of time that is required for drugs to be eliminated from the human body is much longer than alcohol.

For example if a person consumed cannabis or marijuana on Monday and got stopped for DUI on Friday and is subjected to a urine test, that person could still be arrested for DUID because the drug is still in their system even after 5 days.

By consuming alcohol, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs or any illegal drugs such as cocaine or meth a person’s abilities to function in a normal state both mentally and physically are diminished. A person in this condition is not only a detriment to themselves, but to the passengers in their vehicle and any motorist or pedestrians in the area.

The motor vehicle code in every state is going to have a provision that covers driving under the influence of drugs. For example in the California motor vehicle code section 23152(a) states that it is illegal for any person who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any combination of alcohol and drugs to operate a motor vehicle in the state of California.

If you have been arrested for DUI or DUID, no matter which state you reside in, it is imperative that you contact an experienced DUI attorney in your area to discuss your case to find out what your options are and to spend some time learning your state DUI laws. It is extremely important to understand that an attorney who does not specialize in DUI defense is not going to have the knowledge regarding your state’s DUI laws and how to properly defend someone facing a DUI charge.



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