Drug use was a factor in 43 percent of the fatal car accidents in 2015, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. This figure surpasses the 37 percent of drivers nationwide who tested above the legal limit for alcohol. In Tennessee, drugged driving has contributed to more fatal accidents than drunk or distracted driving, with deaths from drug-impaired drivers jumping 89 percent from 2010 through 2015.
Tennessee laws on driving while under the influence of drugs
It is illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs in Tennessee. Specifically, Tennessee law states that “any intoxicant, marijuana, narcotic drug, or drug producing stimulating effects on the central nervous system” is prohibited while driving. These intoxicants include:
- the salts of barbituric acid: amphetamine, desoxyephedrine, compounds or mixtures thereof
- phenolethylamine or any of the salts thereof, except those intended for use in the nose
Penalties for driving while drugged
In Tennessee, if you are found driving while impaired due to the use of drugs, you will be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and face DUI penalties. First offenses bring jail time of 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days, fines, participation in a drug and alcohol treatment program, and revocation of your drivers' license for one year. When calculating punishment, a conviction for driving while drugged is considered a prior offense, even if any subsequent offense is due to alcohol or drugs.
Testing for the presence of drugs
Standard measures for testing the alcohol impairment of an individual are utilized by police departments across the country at the scene of the accident. Testing for the presence of drugs is more complicated and typically requires a blood test. In addition, the effect of drugs can vary significantly from one person to another and the level of impairment can depend upon the drug itself. Because testing is complex, there is no established legal level of drugs in the blood system for the basis of conviction. Instead, this determination is made on a case-by-case basis.
Charged with DUI? We can help
If you have been charged with drugged driving, it is important to understand the consequences and your rights under the law. The skilled DUI attorneys at Dotson & Taylor Attorneys at Law in Murfreesboro are knowledgeable in Tennessee law, sharing more than 40 combined years of experience and a track record of success. We are by your side from the beginning, advising you and advocating for you every step of the way. If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence of drugs, contact a member of our team today at 615-890-1982 or online to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case.