You have already heard the spiel -- driving under the influence of alcohol is not just dangerous, it is illegal. You may have followed the advice of your parents and college professors religiously, which is why you felt so surprised when an officer charged you with impaired driving. In South Carolina, police can still charge you for driving while under the influence of other substances.
College life is difficult, and you may not have been thinking about this. However, the courts likely will not care whether it was a momentary lapse of youthful judgement or a systemic pattern of behavior. Either way, you are facing serious criminal consequences that could impact not only your current educational trajectory, but also your entire future.
Drugs count for impaired driving
You were not out at the bar or slinging back beers at a friend's apartment before you got behind the wheel, so what gives? Your other activities might be to blame. In the United States, you cannot drive under the influence of any of the following substances:
- Other impairing drugs (over the counter or prescribed)
Police officers receive training to spot signs of impairment in drivers. However, it is important to remember that these officers are only human, so their observations might not always be correct. This is something to consider if you believe that they may have wrongly charged you.
I thought marijuana was safe?
Many states have legalized both medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, leading some to believe that it does not impair people. There are even rumors that driving under the influence of marijuana can make you a safer driver. It is important to understand that these are only rumors.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration performed a Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk Study and determined that those who regularly use marijuana have a higher likelihood of being involved in motor vehicle accidents. However, all of that risk might not stem from the drug alone -- marijuana users tend to be younger males, who are already more likely to cause accidents than the average driver.
What can I do?
Facing criminal charges at any age can be terrifying, but especially so as a young adult. You have so much life ahead of you, and you do not want to derail your future for a single youthful mistake. It is important to remember that you are not alone.
If you are charged with impaired driving, it is important to have the right help on your side. An experienced attorney who is familiar with South Carolina criminal law can usually help explain a defendant's situation more clearly, giving them the opportunity to navigate a path toward the most successful end possible.