The fact that impaired driving is so often referred to as drunk driving is somewhat problematic. It is true that being drunk is a type of impairment, and it is likely the most common type of impairment that the police are going to find. But it is not the only way for someone to become impaired.
In fact, it’s completely possible to be impaired to the point that you would be arrested, or that you could be involved in an accident, all without drinking a sip of alcohol. Let’s take a look at how this may happen.
First off, if you’re ever taking a medication that you got with a prescription, make sure to read the packaging materials carefully. They may say that you’re not supposed to operate heavy machinery. Many people know that they shouldn’t use power tools or things of this nature, but they tend to forget that a car is just a type of heavy machinery. If your medication has this warning and you drive anyway, you could be accused of impaired driving.
Naturally, other illegal substances – or legal ones – could also lead to impairment. For instance, someone may decide not to drink, but they decide to smoke marijuana. That can still certainly lead to enough impairment that you could get arrested. Other issues arise when people are using legal medication in illegal ways. For instance, opioids are technically a prescription medication, but using them recreationally is already illegal. Just like marijuana or other drugs, it can lead to impairment.
Drowsy driving is difficult because people will also often think that they are awake enough to drive. They do not realize how dangerous it is. One thing to keep in mind is that it can exaggerate other symptoms. For example, simply having one beer may usually not be enough to get your blood alcohol concentration up over the legal limit. But if you have a drink when you’re already overly fatigued, it makes your impairment worse.
If you do find yourself facing serious charges, be sure you know what legal options you have.