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Is drugged driving as dangerous as drunk driving?

When the debates to legalize marijuana began to intensify, many people pointed to drunk drivers as proof that alcohol was far more dangerous. There is some merit to the argument, but if law enforcement catches you driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs, you may still face charges.

Even if officers do not collect a sample at the time to test for drugs, they may make a case based on behavioral patterns. In instances where you may have caused injuries or property damage, the chances of this are much higher.

What makes drugged driving dangerous?

Most people think of marijuana and other recreational drugs when it comes to drugged driving, but even antihistamines may present an issue. Different drugs also feature different side effects. The National Institute on Drug Abuse points out the following examples:

  • Meth and cocaine may cause drivers to make more reckless and aggressive driving decisions.
  • Marijuana slows the response time and decreases coordination, making it difficult to react appropriately in emergency situations.
  • Opioids and many forms of prescription medications, such as antihistamines, can cause drowsiness.

What is the most common drug involved in crashes?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse shares that marijuana is second only to alcohol on the list of substances found in the bloodstream of drivers involved in crashes. One of the biggest complications with marijuana is how long it remains in the system and affects the brain and the rest of the body. In fact, professionals believe THC stays put for several days or weeks and may continue to influence your behavior during this time.

Drugs have different effects on different people, so there is no hard-line response on whether drugged driving is as dangerous as drunk driving. Even so, because both instances are about as likely to lead to charges for driving impaired, you should treat them as equal risks. It is also important not to underestimate the risks of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications.