Many assume that driving under the influence (DUI) means drunk driving and although the majority of DUI tickets and accidents are alcohol-related, substances such as prescription pills, marijuana, and street drugs can also inhibit your driving and result in a DUI offense or even worse, an accident. Although marijuana is legal in certain states, it is still legal under federal law and is still considered a substance in which inhibits driving. Prescription drugs such as painkillers and benzodiazepines, although it may be legal and written in your name are also noted to be prohibited if you are operating a motor vehicle. It only takes one time and one drink or one pill; meaning that you do not have to be a person with substance use disorder or have a previous history with addiction to be charged with a DUI. A DUI offense or worse, an accident involving drugs or alcohol can result in severe fines, alcohol classes, jail time, and community service. Although the general rule of thumb is one drink an hour, this is often false, drinking on an empty stomach can put you over the legal limit and depending on your body mass, a drink and prescription medications can affect each differently.

Getting the facts on driving under the influence

Every day, 28 individuals in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This is one death every 51 minutes, and the annual cost of alcohol-related crashes totals more than $44 billion. Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes, and 13% of nighttime and weekend drivers have marijuana in their system. The legal limit in the United States is .08 percent, and studies have shown that the average driver under the influence has driven in this state at least 80 times before their first arrest and about one-third of individuals driving under the influence are repeat offenders. Individuals who operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other illicit substances have slowed reaction times, poor hand-eye coordination, have lowered inhibitions and are more likely to engage in riskier driving. Although rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft are available and drunk driving accidents have significantly decreased since the inception of these companies, driving under the influence is still a concern in all 50 states.

The consequences of a DUI

Depending on the specific state and if you are a repeat or first time offender, a DUI can cost you up to $10,00 in fines, a misdemeanor or felony on your record, community service, alcohol awareness classes such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and a mandatory installment of an interlock ignition device. This device requires an individual to blow into a device before their ignition can start. These charges and consequences are public, and therefore, anyone can look up this information such as an employer, a potential romantic partner, a family member, or a landlord. Although receiving a DUI is not the end of the world, it can be very damaging to your reputation and your pocketbook.

Do you have an alcohol disorder?

Alcohol, like any other addictive substance, can re-wire your brain to create intense physiological and psychological cravings. Often, you may be the last person to recognize that you have a substance abuse addiction with alcohol because you may change your lifestyle to conform to your addiction. Alcohol abuse can ruin relationships, create financial burdens associated with job loss, lead to illegal activity such as drinking while under the influence, and even lead to violent outbursts. It is up to you to seek treatment for your disorder. Fortunately, there are many resources in your community that can help you; however, you must first be willing to admit that you do have an alcohol addiction.