The Rise of Prescription/Over-the-Counter Drug Use & Impaired Driving

While alcohol related car accidents still remain the most prosecuted impaired driving cases in the United States, prescription/over-the-counter drug use and related crashes are reportedly on the rise, and in some states, far surpassing cocaine and marijuana related cases.  Across the country, police officers, prosecutors and families of victims killed by drivers under the influence of drugs are seeing the results of easy access to prescription medications.  Anti-anxiety drugs such as Xanax are most the commonly found prescription drugs involved in deadly crashes, followed by oxycodone, a powerful pain reliever.  These prescription drugs and even some over-the-counter drugs, such as Benadryl, have similarly dangerous effects, as does alcohol, on the brain and/or central nervous system and may significantly impair your judgment and driving ability.  People, especially those who obtain prescription drugs illegally, are not always familiar with the whole host of side effects associated with them, which can have deadly consequences. Moreover, many recreational prescription drug users, a growing number of whom are teenagers, often combine them with alcohol, which can magnify their effects and leave them seriously impaired, especially when behind the wheel.

Although most people equate driving while impaired as resulting from alcohol consumption, drivers who are under the influence of drugs, including prescription medications, can nonetheless face severe penalties if they cause a car accident.  For example, in Missouri, intoxicated driving includes driving while under the influence of drugs, or “DUID”, which carries with it no legal limit.  Meaning, any amount of drugs that impair your ability to drive is sufficient for a DUID conviction.  Drivers under the influence of drugs who cause an accident, especially an accident involving injury or death, could face stiff penalties, including felony manslaughter charges. Otherwise stated, drug impaired driving in Kansas is an offense as serious as a DWI charge and brings with it the same criminal and administrative penalties, which may include jail time and having your license revoked.  In light of Kansas’s “Implied Consent” law, police officers do not need your permission to test your breath, blood, urine or, saliva for traces of drugs and/or alcohol.  Just as with a DWI offense, if you refuse to be tested, your driver’s license will be revoked for 1 year.  Moreover, these charges, depending upon several factors, may even permanently stay on your driving record, which can have serious consequences for those that are seeking to go to college or even to pursue a professional career.

  If you have been involved in a car accident involving a DUID charge in Kansas, it is essential to speak with an attorney who can advise you further as to what your rights and responsibilities are and also, what the next steps are in either bringing forth or defending against a DUID charge. 

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