Illinois law enforcement agencies and advocacy groups spend a significant amount of time making sure that drivers understand not to drink alcohol and then get behind the wheels of their cars. Drivers are given breath tests and field sobriety tests to determine impairment. However, drunk driving is not the only crime for which an individual could be arrested. Drugged driving could also result in an arrest and possible charges.
Most Illinois drivers know that using illegal drugs and then driving could have serious legal repercussions. The use of most drugs will affect an individual's driving in some manner. For example, methamphetamines or cocaine are known to cause reckless and aggressive driving, while marijuana can slow a person's reaction time.
However, people who take prescription medications may not realize that driving while under their influence could result in the same consequences. Many prescription drugs cause similar effects as those seen in illegal drugs. Under these conditions, drivers may exhibit the same behaviors as those under the influence of alcohol as well. If pulled over by police, the driver may pass a breath test, but he or she may have trouble with field sobriety tests. The prescription a doctor wrote as treatment for a condition could put a driver in the back of a police car.
That does not mean that the driver automatically faces a conviction for drugged or drunk driving. Every case is unique, and the circumstances surrounding the charges require close scrutiny and investigation. There could be legal options available that will not result in a conviction or a criminal record. Determining whether any of them fits a particular situation may require the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Source: drugabuse.gov, "Drugged Driving", Accessed on Aug. 20, 2017