Many people assume that getting arrested for impaired driving means you are being accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. And it is true that this is the most common reason for impaired driving charges.
But the key is to remember that the arrest is actually for the impairment, not the substance that impaired you, and so alcohol may not even be a factor. Anything that alters your ability to drive can lead to that arrest.
Using legal and illegal drugs can lead to impaired driving
For instance, you can get arrested for driving after using illegal drugs, like heroin or cocaine. These aren’t going to show up on a breath test, but the officer may still be able to tell that you are impaired and he or she can then order urine tests, blood tests, or even hair tests. These will all show evidence of drug use for various amounts of time, with hair tests often working for months.
In fact, you can also get arrested if you’re impaired by legal drugs, such as prescription medications. After all, alcohol is just a legal drug for anyone over 21 years of age. If a doctor gives you opioids and you take them and drive, you may have violated the law, even if you were absolutely allowed to have the opioids and you were using them with a prescription.
Even over-the-counter drugs can leave you impaired. For example, allergy and cold medications commonly make people sleepy — and that can mean a driver is impaired. Just because your drug use was legal does not mean that driving after said use was also legal.
Are you facing charges due to impaired driving?
These types of charges can change the trajectory of your life. If you’re currently facing them, you need to take the time to carefully consider all of the legal options you have.