Lots of people think that “driving under the influence” means that alcohol was involved; however, that isn’t true. Driving under the influence (DUI) can refer to alcohol and/or drugs. Unfortunately, millions of drivers in the U.S. do drive while being influenced by both legal and illegal drugs.
What is drugged driving?
The level of alcohol in a driver can be measured by blood alcohol concentration (BAC), but because there are so many different drugs that can impair one’s driving, there is no such legal measurement or definition of drugged driving. The amount of a particular drug’s concentration in the body varies from drug to drug and person to person, so it’s difficult to state scientifically what level of a drug will constitute impaired driving.
How can driving under the influence of drugs be proven?
If there is no legal measurement of driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) like a BAC test for alcohol, the state places the responsibility of deciding whether a driver is impaired on law enforcement officers. If an officer pulls a driver over because he notices impaired driving and the driver passes the BAC test but not the field sobriety test, the suspect will likely be arrested and then tested for drugs while in custody.
Does marijuana impair driving?
In last year’s election, Arkansas voted to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Once the Legislature gets all the ands, ifs, and buts all worked out, the question of marijuana impairing driving will become an important one.
We already know that illegal marijuana use impairs judgment and slows reaction time. Those driving under the influence of alcohol tend to speed because of reduced inhibitions. Marijuana tends to result in slower driving, as it slows drivers’ senses. However, even though the driver may be driving more slowly, he can still misjudge the distances, the behavior of other drivers, and a host of other potential dangers.
Those using legal medical marijuana have to understand that they can’t drive while using the drug because that is illegal.
Arkansas DUI/DUID penalties
In addition to criminal charges for driving under the influence and possible subsequent conviction, you may also face penalties from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DF&A). These penalties, in the form of driver’s license suspensions, are completely separate from a criminal DUI/DUID conviction. The length of the suspension is determined by the number of offenses.
- First DUI/DUID conviction: Driver’s license is automatically suspended for six months.
- Second DUI/DUID conviction within 5 years: Driver’s license is automatically suspended for two months.
- Third DUI/DUID conviction within 5 years: Driver’s license is automatically suspended for thirty months.
- Fourth DUI/DUID conviction within 5 years: Permanent driver’s license revocation. YOU CAN NEVER GET IT BACK!
Each time you are convicted of DUI/DUID, you accumulate administrative points, which can result in higher car insurance rates, mandatory completion of defensive driving school, and/or community service and fines.
If you get a DUI, you should expect to face an increase in your auto insurance premium by usually hundreds of dollars, or you may face cancellation of your policy.
Driving under the influence of any substance (legal or illegal) makes it much harder for you to realize that you are putting yourself, your passengers, other drivers and pedestrians in danger.
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