Opioid abuse in the United States is a serious epidemic that affects people from a variety of backgrounds. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that nearly 20 million Americans abused some form of opioid in 2017, including sedatives and stimulants. These drugs can affect you in a variety of ways; however, one of the most serious can be your ability to properly operate a motor vehicle. There are several reasons for this.
1. Reduced Reaction Time
Some doctors may prescribe some opioids, such as oxycodone, for pain relief after surgery or an injury. If these are misused, they can slow your reaction time when you are behind the wheel. This can lead to serious accidents due to an inability to brake on time or misjudging the distance between your car and another vehicle. The more impaired you become, the slower your reaction to dangerous traffic situations might become.
2. Falling Asleep
While opioids can produce a feeling of ecstasy and relieve pain, they can also make you feel extremely sleepy. Overuse or abuse of opioids like codeine may cause you to nod off while driving, which can seriously endanger your life and the lives of drivers sharing the road with you. Falling asleep behind the wheel can cause you to drift into oncoming traffic, strike a guardrail, or leave the road entirely. Any of these circumstances could cause a devastating accident.
3. Increased Recklessness
The feeling of euphoria that many opioids provide may affect your judgment, especially when it comes to safe driving. You may not bother to wear your seatbelt and ignore safety regulations as you drive, including disobeying traffic laws, speeding, and practicing unsafe maneuvers with your vehicle. As the opioids affect you more, the danger of these actions may not be as obvious.
4. Maneuvering Errors
Driving often involves making quick decisions, especially when a sudden hazard appears. Opioids can affect your ability to maneuver and avoid an accident, especially in heavy traffic. For example, if you are high behind the wheel and traffic stops in front of you unexpectedly, you may not have the ability to switch lanes or stop in time to avoid colliding with the car in front of you, which may cause injuries to you and the other driver.
Facing a charge of driving while under the influence of opioids can have a serious impact on your life, but there is help available. Contact a lawyer, like a criminal defense lawyer from May Law, LLP, today to make an appointment for an initial consultation or for further assistance.