Narcotics and Prescription Drugs

How consumption of narcotic and prescription drugs can result in DUI/DWI charges?

Analogous to the laws in the United States prohibiting driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) are a parallel set of laws prohibiting driving under the influence of drugs. Unlike the laws limiting the level of alcohol permitted for driving, the laws for drugs do not stipulate a level either in blood or urine beyond which driving is prohibited. There is a good reason for this.

Alcohol is a drug with the unique faculty of moving rapidly throughout the body to an equilibrium level wherever there is water. Determining the alcohol level in the water of the blood, the urine, or the breath is an excellent measure of the alcohol level in the water of the brain. It is, of course, the presence of alcohol in the brain that produces the change in behavior that leads to driving impairment. Unfortunately, nearly all other drugs lack this faculty. As a result, the level of drug in blood samples have a complex relationship to the level of drugs at any other site in the body.

Some drugs remain fairly tightly compartmentalized in the areas into which the body admits them. For that reason, obtaining a drug blood level is rarely sufficient, except at very high levels, for predicting whether or not an individual is impaired by that drug. The metabolites of some drugs appear in the blood and urine for weeks beyond the point at which there is any behavioral impairment. On the other hand, there are other drugs that vanish from the blood into other body compartments while the subjects continue to exhibit behavioral impairment.

Determining presence of drugs

The presence of drugs is generally measured by a blood or urine test. However ,the police in many states have officers who are specifically trained to determine if the driver is impaired by drugs. These officers are referred to as DREs or Drug Recognition Experts. They observe the suspect driver for signs of drug impairment.

Per Se Laws

A few states have per se laws regarding driving under the influence of drugs. In these states you cannot operate a motor vehicle within any detectable amount of narcotic and certain prescription drugs in your system. Out of the fifteen states that have per se laws, Virginia, Ohio and Nevada have require a certain quantity of prohibited drugs to be in the system for the person to be charged with driving under the influence of drugs.

The remaining twelve states: Wisconsin, Utah, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, Delaware and Arizona have a zero tolerance law — you will be charged with driving under the influence even if there is a slight trace of any prohibited drug in your system.

Narcotic Drugs

Narcotic drugs are commonly referred to as illegal drugs and include heroin, morphine, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and LSD. These drugs react differently when then enter the system.



Heroin, MorphineDiminished reflexes, vomiting, nausea, depressed heart rate, analgesia, mental clouding, disconnectedness, sedation, relaxation, drowsiness, intense euphoria
CocaineIncreased heart rate, aggressiveness, paranoia, irritability, disoriented behavior, confusion, euphoria, dizziness, excitation.
MarijuanaIncreased heart rate, image distortion, paranoia, drowsiness, altered time and space perception, disorientation, euphoria, relaxation
MethamphetamineIncreased blood pressure, increased heart rate, poor impulse control, insomnia, delusions, hallucinations, excitation, euphoria.
LSDTremors, hypertension, impaired depth, time and space perception, delusions, altered mental state, hallucinations.

Prescription Drugs

Driving or operating a vehicle after consuming certain prescription and over the counter drugs can result in a driving under the influence of drugs charge. Certain prescription and over the counter drugs can affect your mental and physical abilities and can impair your driving. Read the instructions and safety warnings on the drug carefully. Sometimes the effect of these drugs can linger for a long time.

Medical Marijuana Will Result in DUI

Even if you state has laws that allow the consumption of marijuana under medical supervision, if you are caught operating a vehicle while under the influence of the drug, you will be charged with DUI. Your doctor’s prescription cannot be used as a defense.

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