You may think that “driving under the influence” only applies to alcohol, especially because that is the focus of most public awareness campaigns. However, California’s DUI laws relate to drugged driving as well. If you choose to drive after using drugs, you may face severe consequences.

The California Office of Traffic Safety provides statistics and other information about impaired driving in the state. According to the OTS, drug-related car accidents are a fairly common problem. In 2015, drugs were a factor in many fatal accidents. When the state tested drivers who died in car crashes in 2015, 19% tested positive for drugs. Nationally in the same year, 43% of drivers who died in accidents tested positive for illegal or legal drugs. The California OTS states that the percentage of drug-impaired drivers in fatal accidents continues to increase every year.

Law enforcement and state government officials are working together to increase awareness of drugged driving risks and regulations. In California, DUI charges may apply when you drive under the influence of drugs, even if they are over-the-counter medicines. Some common medications that may impair driving include pain relievers, sleep aids and sedatives. You may still get arrested and/or fined for impaired driving even if you have a prescription for your medication.

Marijuana is another drug that frequently shows up in DUI situations. It is legal in California for adults over 21 to use marijuana at home or at a licensed business. However, you may not consume the drug while driving. Additionally, marijuana may affect your decision-making ability and reaction time for several hours. Driving after consuming both alcohol and drugs may increase your risk of an accident even more.

This information on drug-impaired driving is intended for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.