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Denver Criminal Defense Attorney Info: Driving Under the Influence of Drugs


November 2, 2016

What do you think of when you hear the word "DUI?" Most folks think of a person driving a vehicle after drinking alcohol. In fact, "DUI" refers to a driver who is under the influence of (impaired by) either illegal or prescription drugs, as well as alcohol. In our continued efforts to educate you about DUI and the defense thereof, we are sharing some information about drugged driving.

A person who uses psychoactive drugs and then proceeds to drive a vehicle is an issue of concern to law enforcement officers, forensic toxicologists, attorneys, physicians, and traffic safety professionals. The challenges of DUI, when it comes to drugs instead of alcohol, are how to identify the drug impaired driver on the road, the availability of appropriate chemical tests, the documentation and assessment of the impairment displayed by the driver, and the interpretation of the subsequent results.

Some folks question if drugged driving is as potentially dangerous as drunk driving. Just like drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs is a public health concern because it puts not only the driver at risk, but also others who share the road.

Drugs that act on your brain can alter your attention, balance, coordination, cognition, perception, reaction time, and other faculties that are needed for safe driving. The effects of specific drugs on the human brain differ depending on their mechanisms of action, the history of the user, the amount consumed, and other factors.

Does Marijuana Use Affect Driving?

Since Colorado legalized marijuana back in 2012 this question has been on the minds of government officials and concerned citizens. More research is needed to understand the impact of marijuana on the ability of a driver to react to unpredictable and complex situations, because the effects of this drug are multifaceted. But the research we have has shown that marijuana is the most prevalent drug detected in fatally injured drivers, impaired drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Marijuana affects the areas of your brain that control your body's movements, memory, balance, judgment and coordination, as well as sensations. Studies have indicated that many drivers who test positive for alcohol also test positive for marijuana. This makes it clear that drinking and drugged driving are related behaviors. And impairment is significantly increased when marijuana is combined with the use of alcohol.

Many prescription drugs come with warnings against the operation of machinery – including motor vehicles – for a specified period of time after use. And there's a good reason for that. Many prescription medications (opiate analgesics and benzodiazepines) act on systems in your brain that can impair your driving ability.

If you have been arrested for a DUI because of drug usage, you may have already come to the conclusion, due to the complexities of the legal system, that you need help from a DUI defense attorney. Don't try and handle it yourself.

The experienced staff at the Buckley Law Office can help. Our mission is to provide our clients with the best possible legal defense through zealous representation. We have the DUI criminal defense experience you need. Call us today for more information at 303-501-1800 or visit our website