When you drive anywhere, you have to be ready to react quickly to hazards around your vehicles. When you are impaired by anything, whether it is alcohol or some other substance, you can't react in the time or manner that you intend. This can be fatal or very dangerous.
Because of this danger, states have enacted laws making it illegal it to drive while you are impaired. While many people associate these laws only with alcohol, this isn't the case. Impaired driving laws apply to a variety of substances.
Looking beyond alcohol
Many different substances can lead to a driver being impaired. These include over-the-counter, prescription and illegal drugs. The important factor that matters in these cases is that the substance impacts your ability to drive safely.
Some medications you may not associate with such a side effect can have this impact on you. Antihistamines, such as the one in Benadryl, is a common culprit for impairing a person's abilities.
When you are dealing with prescriptions, it is a bit easier to discern which medications have this potential. They are generally marked with a warning to not drive until you know how the medication will impact your abilities.
Almost all illegal drugs are going to impact your ability to drive. Some people think that there isn't any harm in smoking marijuana and then driving, but even that is a risky behavior that could lead to troubling consequences.
Difficulties with criminal charges
There is an extra challenge when a driver is suspected of being under the influence of something other than alcohol. There aren't any non-subjective tests that can determine the level of intoxication in the same way that a blood alcohol concentration test provides information about alcohol levels in the body.
Many drugs can stay in a person's system for a long time after the impacts have worn off. This means that there might not be concrete evidence that the person actually had impaired abilities from the substance. In these cases, police officers rely on field sobriety tests to determine whether a person is impaired.
Defendants in these cases can often use the lack of concrete testing as part of their defense, but this will vary depending on the circumstances on the traffic stop. It is imperative that you think about every option when you are devising a defense plan.