While many people focus on alcohol as the cause of impaired driving, drugs are also a cause. There are many factors that people don't realize about this matter. It is imperative that anyone who has a driver's license know a bit about drugged driving.
These cases are handled in much the same manner as drunk driving charges. There are a few differences that come into the picture but things like your rights when you are stopped remain the same.
What drugs cause impairment?
Many substances can cause a driver to become impaired. Illegal, over-the-counter and prescription drugs can affect a driver in negative manners. It is easy to think that just because you can legally buy medications that you can drive while you are taking them.
However, fatigue, dizziness and similar impacts are common. Many medications come with a notice that you shouldn't drive after taking them or to use caution operating heavy machinery. A motor vehicle is considered a heavy machine so heed these warnings.
How do officers know if drivers are impaired?
Police officers watch for signs of impairment when they patrol. These include swerving, driving unsafely, drifting out of your lane, stopping suddenly and driving either too fast or too slowly. If the officer sees any of these signs, they are likely going to initiate a traffic stop.
During the stop, they will ask you questions to determine if you have taken any substances or had any alcohol that might impair you. Remember that you do have rights during this process, including the right to remain silent. You must provide information about your identity to the officers when asked.
How is impairment level determined?
In the case of alcohol, there is a breath test or blood test that determines the blood alcohol concentration. For drugs, this testing is still being developed. It is possible for officers to determine if the person has had specific drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana or heroin. However, the tests won't provide information that can be used to determine an impairment level. Instead, officers have to rely on signs of impairment, such as those that are found in the standardized field sobriety test.
Are defenses possible against drugged driving?
Your defense options in Houston depend on the circumstances. Everything must be reviewed to determine what is possible for you. Make sure that you do this early in your case so that you don't have to rush through the development of your defense strategy.