Richard S. Lundin
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Personal injury and family law attorney licensed to practice in Maryland and the District of Columbia

When it comes to driving under the influence (DUI), many people automatically think “alcohol.” However, a myriad of drugs—illegal, prescription, and over-the-counter—can also impair one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle and subject a person to DUI charges. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that in 2014, approximately 22 percent of drivers involved in fatal auto accidents were impaired by drugs. In over half those cases, prescription drug usage was involved.

Drugs of many varieties can cause drowsiness, dizziness, impaired motor skills, diminished reflexes, sensitivity to light, and impaired judgment—all of which can make driving a perilous venture. In addition, not all drugs affect people in the same way.

Measuring a person’s blood-alcohol concentration can be done easily and with a high degree of accuracy at the time of a traffic stop, or shortly thereafter. Measuring drug impairment is a bit trickier. For instance, some drugs can be detected in a person’s bloodstream or urine for weeks after use, making it difficult to determine actual impairment at a given time.

Drivers need to keep in mind that just because they are under doctor’s orders to use a certain prescription drug, or they have state permission to utilize medical marijuana, that does not give them the green light to drive while impaired. They will be charged with DUI if caught.

If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI due to drug use of any kind, contact a DUI attorney who knows the ins and outs of the scientific and legal implications in order to protect your rights.

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