As several states across the country move closer to passing laws to legalize recreational marijuana, many people have questions about how this drug will impact driving. We know that driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, so what about drugged driving? Because marijuana, cocaine, and illegal sedatives severely impair driving, the potential risk to the public caused by drugged driving is significant. Drugs are designed for different purposes and affect individuals differently, therefore it is not always easy to predict how they will impair driving. However, this is what we do know about the most commonly-abused illegal drugs:
- Benzodiazepines and other sedatives: Slow the body’s functions, cause drowsiness, and delay reaction time
- Cocaine and/or methamphetamine: Lead to aggressive, rushed, or reckless behavior
- Marijuana: Inhibits coordination, slows reaction time, and alters perception of distance and time
These drugs reduce a driver’s ability to make rational, safe decisions behind the wheel. Drugged drivers are not just a danger to themselves but are a hazard to everyone around them.
DC Drugged Driving Laws
In the District of Columbia, drivers suspected of operating a moving vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other prohibited substance can be tested to determine blood-alcohol or blood-drug content. Driving in DC is essentially considered consent for chemical testing.
Drivers who refuse blood, breath, or urine testing receive a warning that their license will be revoked for a year. If they still refuse chemical testing, their license is revoked immediately, and no test is given. This refusal can be used in any civil or criminal proceeding related to their traffic stop and has been inferred as evidence of guilt in previous cases.
Penalties for Drugged Driving in DC
In the District of Columbia, a first-time drugged driving offense comes with a $300 fine and the possibility of jail time for up 90 days. Fines for second offenses range between $1,000 and $5,000 and include a minimum of at least five days in jail. Some second time offenders go to jail for up to a year. Drivers caught operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs on three or more occasions risk fines between $2,000 and $10,000, jail time from 10 days to a year, and a two-year suspension of their license. The judge may also require community service for repeat offenders.
In DC and throughout the country, law enforcement officials have the right to establish roadblocks to check for individuals driving without a license or registration. While these are the primary goals of police checkpoints, drivers who are deemed under the influence of drugs or alcohol when stopped are subject to arrest.
DC Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Fight for Victims of Drugged Driving Wrecks
Unlike alcohol, ingesting certain illicit drugs make it difficult for others to identify drugged drivers. Yet, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine significantly impair a person’s ability to drive safely. If you or a loved one was injured by a drugged driver, trust an experienced DC car accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Duane O. King to advocate for you. Call us at 202-331-1963 or contact us online today for a free consultation. Located in Washington, DC, we proudly serve clients throughout DC and Maryland.