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Home > Impaired Driving > Driving & Drugs in Maine

Driving & Drugs in Maine

Driving Under the Influence is a Bad Choice. Here's Why:

A drug is a substance that changes your feelings, perceptions and behavior when you use it. Once under the influence of a drug, you become a poor judge of your ability to drive. On some drugs, other sensations and feelings become more important to you than the road. On others, you become numb to you surroundings, and less and less able to deal with the risks and details of driving.

Look closely at the types of drugs people use today and see why having them in your system makes you an irresponsible, dangerous out-of-control driver:

Marijuana

It produces a dreamy state of mind and creates the illusion that your senses are sharper than ever. While it's true that your attention becomes focused, you actually become preoccupied with unusual thoughts or visions, not the road. That "spaced out" feeling alters your sense of time and space, making it difficult to make quick decisions, judge distances and speed, and causes slow, disconnected thoughts, poor memory and paranoia. Even hours after the effect is gone, this inability to deal with the unexpected lingers.

Other Hallucinogens

The stronger, psychedelic drugs like LSD, PCP, and Mescaline so disorient the user that driving becomes almost irrelevant. Under the influence of these drugs, you are likely to see, hear, smell and feel things that aren't even there, and you concentrate on these hallucinations to the exclusion of anything so ordinary as the road. These bizarre thoughts can bring on a kind of panic that could cause total loss of control.

Inhalants

Glue, paint, solvents, aerosols and other products whose fumes are very powerful can produce mind changes similar to hallucinogenic drugs, with the same bad consequences for driving.

Stimulants

The "upper" drugs, like cocaine and speed, increase physical energy and mental excitement by suddenly speeding up heart rate and blood pressure. Driving under the influence of this artificial energy makes it difficult to sit still, concentrate on the road, or make rational judgments about traffic. These surges of energy interfere with the calm state of mind needed to be a good driver. And when the high is gone, the user crashes with feelings of extreme fatigue and depression.

Sedatives

The "downer" drugs, like barbiturates and tranquilizers, numb the central nervous system to such a degree that muscles relax, tension and anxiety are masked, and the user becomes very drowsy. Reflexes and coordination necessary for driving deteriorate. Often combined with alcohol, downers are deadly because breathing slows down so much that the brain becomes starved for oxygen.

Over-The-Counter Drugs

Don't forget that medicines for treating colds, allergies and sinus congestion are drugs too. Most contain antihistamines, which have many of the same effects as sedatives. It is very easy, without even thinking about it, to combine one of these drugs with alcohol, and find yourself falling asleep at the wheel soon afterwards.

Narcotics

Heroin, morphine and codeine (found in certain cough medicines) are addictive drugs that relieve pain, depress mental functions and produce euphoria in the user. The eye's ability to react to light is poor, and driving skills are impaired much the same way as they would be under the influence of sedatives.

Alcohol

When alcohol enters the system, your ability to control a car, and yourself, immediately start to deteriorate. Good judgment, concentration and your ability to react quickly to the unexpected start to disappear. Your vision gets worse, like wearing sunglasses at night. You become uncoordinated and forgetful. Because alcohol is a depressant, just like sedatives, your inhibitions are relaxed. So if you're normally shy or uncomfortable in social situations, you may feel it's easier to have fun under the influence of alcohol. But alcohol is tricky. You feel stimulated because you're not so uptight, but you also become overconfident of your abilities and start to behave irresponsibly. Although you feel more like you're in the swing of things, you're just not as concerned about being "out of it."

Prescription Medications

If you're taking any kind of prescription medication, talk to you doctor or pharmacist about how it might impair your driving ability. Also discuss possible complications arising from drinking while taking the medication.

Combinations

Taking drugs and drinking alcohol together is really asking for trouble. When you do this, you are multiplying the effects of each in a very powerful and dangerous way. Not only will your impairment and intoxication grow, but your life is threatened also.

OUI Drug Law

Maine has trained police officers to detect the presence of drugs other than alcohol in impaired drivers. The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program provides the evidence needed to successfully prosecute drivers for operating under the influence. The presence of abused drugs or controlled substances in the system can be used as evidence of impairment.