Most DWI offenses stem from the use of alcohol or illegal drugs. However, the use of legal drugs – both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications – can also result in impaired driving and potential arrest.
According to Maryland’s drugged driving law, it states that an individual may not operate or attempt to operate any vehicle while he or she is so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol. In other words, it is a criminal offense to drive while under the influence of a drug – legal or not.
However, the standards for how much of a drug can be in someone’s system without causing impairment are not yet established. This means that there is no comparable standard to the 0.08% maximum set for BAC levels.
The following are the common prescriptions and OTC drugs which can impair drivers:
- Antidepressants – Causes impairment similar to intoxicated driving
- Antihistamines – Slows reaction time and impairs coordination
- Decongestants – Causes drowsiness, dizziness, and anxiety
- Hydrocodone – Causes impairment similar to codeine and morphine
- Sleeping pills – Despite taking them at the night, the residual effects can impair motorists
- Valium – Causes impairment similar to having a BAC of 0.10%
A driver arrested for drugged driving in Maryland will be charged with driving under the influence and subject to DUI penalties. A conviction for drugged driving will be considered as a prior offense for purposes of calculating penalties.