Posts Tagged Drugged Driving

DUI by Prescription Medication

One of the most common misconceptions in Driving Under the Influence cases is that a person cannot be convicted of driving under the influence of a drug that prescribed to that person.  In Tennessee, driving with prescription medication in one’s system is not a defense to Driving Under the Influence (DUI).

 

Under Tennessee law it is unlawful for any person to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while “Under the influence of any intoxicant, marijuana, controlled substance, controlled substance analogue, drug, substance affecting the central nervous system or combination thereof that impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle by depriving the driver of the clearness of mind and control of himself which he would otherwise possess.” Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-401(1).  Tennessee law further specifies that, “The fact that any person charged with violating § 55-10-401 is or has been entitled to use one (1) or more intoxicants, alcohol, marijuana, controlled substances, controlled substance analogues, drugs, or other substances that cause impairment shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this part.” Tennessee Code Annotated § 55-10-411(e).

 

Driving under the influence of drugs (both illicit drugs and prescription medication) is reported to be on the rise, as recently highlighted in The Washington Post.  Two recent reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claim that the incidents of driving under the influence by alcohol (drunk driving) are down, but there has been an increase of cases involving those driving under the influence of marijuana and prescription drugs:

The 2014 survey found that about 8 percent of people on the road on weekend nights had alcohol in their system, and slightly more than 1 percent were above the legal limit. That was 30 percent below the 2007 figure, NHTSA said, and an 80 percent drop since the first survey was taken in 1973.

But the number of people with drugs in their system was found to be on the rise. It jumped from 16.3 percent in 2007 to 20 percent of weekend nighttime drivers in 2014. Drivers with marijuana in their system soared by almost 50 percent.

See Ashley Halsey III, Fewer People  Driving Drunk, But Drug Use On The Road Is Rising, The Washington Post (Feb. 8, 2015), available at http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/fewer-people-driving-drunk-but-more-are-driving-while-on-drugs/2015/02/08/b6c4ad2a-ae59-11e4-9c91-e9d2f9fde644_story.html.

 

If accused of driving under the influence of drugs (DUI by drugs), it is important to immediately consult with a Tennessee DUI attorney familiar with Tennessee DUI laws and the issues surrounding DUI by drugs or prescription medication.  For more information about the crime of DUI or about your legal rights with respect to an allegation of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, the lawyers at Oberman & Rice are available by calling (865) 249-7200.  You may also wish to visit www.tndui.com for more information about the offense of driving under the influence in Tennessee.

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In an Average Year 30 Million Americans Drive Drunk – 10 Million Drive Impaired by Illicit Drugs

On Dec. 9 2010, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the US government (SAMHSA) indicated that on average 13.2 percent of all persons 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol and 4.3 percent of this age group drove under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year.

This self reporting survey reported dramatic differences among age groups.  Younger drivers aged 16 to 25 had a much higher rate of drunk driving than those aged 26 or older (19.5 percent versus 11.8 percent).

Similarly, people aged 16 to 25 had a much higher rate of driving under the influence of illicit drugs than those aged 26 or older (11.4 percent versus 2.8 percent).

The good news reported in the survey is that there has been a reduction in the rate of drunk and drugged driving in the past few years.  When compared to the survey data from 2002 through 2005, the data gathered from 2006 to 2009 indicate that the average yearly rate of drunk driving has declined from 14.6 percent to 13.2 percent, while the average yearly rate of drugged driving has decreased from 4.8 percent to 4.3 percent.  This National Survey on Drug Use and Health involved responses from more than 423,000 respondents aged 16 or over.

A copy of the entire government report is accessible at: http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/205/DruggedDriving.cfm.

For the latest information about the public health risks of alcohol misuse one can go to https://www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking-topic. This site provides updated information about the risks, such as drunk driving, as well as new and effective prevention strategies and activities.

In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a Web site at http://www.stopimpaireddriving.org/ that provides detailed information about the dangers of drunk and drugged driving and what can be done to help combat the problem.

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