What Is Drugged Driving?

Text image What Is Drugged Driving?

Image by NIDA. 

Drugged driving is driving under the influence of legal or illegal substances. Many people know it isn’t safe to drive after drinking alcohol. It’s also unsafe to drive after using illicit drugs or after misusing prescription drugs.

Driving under the influence of drugs is dangerous not just for the person using drugs, but also for passengers and other people who share the road. And drugged driving is against the law.

Man in cloud of smoke. What is Drugged Driving? Driving while under the influence of legal or illegal substances. It puts the driver, passengers, and others who share the road in danger. It is illegal in every state. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services logo. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) logo. For more information, visit NIDA's Drugged Driving Drug Facts at drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving.
 (Image by NIDA.)

How common is drugged driving?

It’s more common than you might think. Take a look at the statistics in the infographic below.

How Common is Drugged Driving? In 2017, among people of ages 16 or older.. 21.4 million drove after drinking alcohol. 12.8 million drove after using illicit drugs.* In 2016, among people killed in driving accidents: 43.6% of drivers who were drug tested and had positive results. 50.5% were positive for two or more drugs. 40.7 % were positive for alcohol. *illicit drugs = marijuana, cocaine (including crack), heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, or methamphetamine.
(Image by NIDA.)

What are the effects of drugs on driving?

Marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, opioids, sedatives, and alcohol all make driving unsafe.

What are effects of Drugs on Driving? Driving under the influence of drugs affects you and everyone around you. Effects of Drugs on Driving: Marijuana—slows reaction time and impairs judgment of time and distance. Methamphetamine or Cocaine—aggressive and reckless behaviors. Opioids—drowsiness and impaired memory and thinking skills. Sedatives (benzodiazepines, barbiturates, etc.)—dizziness and drowsiness
 (Image by NIDA.)

How can you help prevent drugged driving?  

  • Find a safe ride to and from any party. If you end up without a safe ride home, call a sober friend, a parent, or another trusted adult.
  • If you have a valid driver’s license, offer to be a designated driver.
  • Speak up!  Talk with your friends about the risks of drugged driving.
  • Hold an event or activity that focuses on drugged driving during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® March 30-April 5, 2020.

Learn more: How much do you really know about drugs and drug use?

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

Related Articles