Impaired Driving: Prescription Drugs and Driving


May cause drowsiness…and danger to others. You can get a DUI for driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

In 2014, $374 billion was spent on prescription drugs in the United States, over $1,100 per person. 2/3 of adults age 65 and over take five or more prescription medications that can affect their ability to drive (AAA). Prescription drug-impaired driving can diminish an individual’s performance behind the wheel and pose the risks of harm to a driver or an innocent bystander.

Points to Remember

  • Use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs can make driving a car unsafe - just like driving after drinking alcohol.
  • In 2014, 10 million people aged 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year.
  • It's hard to measure how many crashes drugged driving causes.
  • After alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often linked to drugged driving.
  • In 2010, more than one-quarter of drugged drivers in fatal crashes were aged 50 years or older.
  • When lack of driving experience is combined with drug use, the results can be tragic.
  • People who use drugs and alcohol should develop social strategies to prevent them from getting behind the wheel of a car while impaired.
Source: NIDA (2016). Drugged Driving


Ventura County Behavioral Health's Place of Last Drink (POLD) Survey Data for 2014, taken from the Alcohol & Drug Programs DUI participants, show that:

  • 11% had used drugs other than alcohol on the day of their arrest.
Of these:
  • 47% reported using Rx drugs
  • 41% reported using marijuana
  • 11% reported using cocaine


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