Many people think that impaired driving is always due to alcohol consumption. In some cases, the impairing substance is a drug. This doesn’t necessarily mean an illegal substance; it can also mean a prescription or over-the-counter medication.
The key here is that a driver may face criminal charges for driving while impaired, regardless of the substance they took that reduced their ability to drive safely. Even if a substance is legal, it can still be the basis for an impaired driving charge.
How do officers determine impairment?
In most cases, the officer will see something that alerts them that a driver isn’t able drive safely. They can initiate a traffic stop in those cases. If they see signs of impairment, they may ask the driver to take a chemical test or complete a field sobriety test.
The chemical test will alert the officers of impairment from alcohol because it will provide the blood alcohol concentration for the driver. A driver may have some substances show up on a drug test, but that doesn’t mean that they impair the driver. Instead, the officer will look for other signs of impairment.
A field sobriety test may reveal that the driver is too impaired to drive safely. It’s also possible that drug recognition experts may weigh in on the case. These points may be used if prosecutors ultimately pursue a case against the driver.
Anyone who’s arrested for impaired driving should learn their options to fight the charge. These vary based on the circumstances. It’s imperative for you to determine your defense strategy quickly, so you have time to prepare. Working with someone familiar with impaired driving cases may be beneficial.