Impaired driving topical wordsSpecial Feature: Impaired Driving

Impaired driving puts the driver, passengers, and others who share the road at risk.

A driver commits the crime of impaired driving whenever their ability to safely operate a vehicle is impaired by having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher or when they’re affected by the use of illegal drugs, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications.

While the issue of alcohol-impaired driving has received broad attention over the years, drug-impaired driving also contributes to fatalities and injuries from traffic crashes. Compared to alcohol, defining and identifying impairment due to drugs is more complicated due to the large number of available drugs and their unpredictable effects.

According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 10 million people age 12 or older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed. Survey findings also show that men are more likely than women to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A higher percentage of young adults age 18 to 25 drive after taking drugs or drinking than do adults 26 or older.

Recent state actions to legalize the use of marijuana for medical and recreational use have further exacerbated concern over potential risks of driving impaired by marijuana.

In many cases, the impact of impaired driving on survivors can be similar to the impact of other types of crimes, especially homicide. Impaired driving offenses often result in much lower charges and sentences – and sometimes result in no sanction. The survivor perceives that the offender “got away with” a serious crime.

DUI Crashes: Real Crimes, Real Victims VideoUsing Office for Victims of Crime grant funding, the National Sheriffs’ Association produced DUI Crashes: Real Crimes, Real Victims, a video that addresses the need for law enforcement to respond to and interact with DUI crash victims in a victim-centered way, clearly communicating services available to victims.

To learn more about the impact of driving while under the influence and to learn what is being done to prevent impaired driving, select an option from the box to the right under the "Impaired Driving" heading.

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