Am I Driving Under the Influence?

Blurred motion car drivers view traveling through tunnelDUI, Driving Under the Influence, is a defined as the act or crime of driving while affected by alcohol or drugs. “Drunk Driving” is the more commonly used term. While a DUI refers to a driver with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, we tend to forgot that being under the influence can happen with other drugs as well; even prescription and Over The Counter (OTC) drugs.

There are many prescription drugs that when taken as prescribed, can cause you to be legally impaired.   Ingesting multiple prescribed medications at once may also present an additional hazard, as they have the possibility to interact with each other. The introduction of alcohol to a mix of drugs undoubtedly enhances a driver’s vulnerability as well behind the wheel.

Reliable data on how many drivers are impaired by prescription drugs is hard to find, but law enforcement officials agree that the problem is increasing.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), common prescription and OTC drugs that can impair drivers are:
Anxiety Medications
Some Antidepressants
Products containing codeine
Some cold remedies and allergy products
Tranquilizers
Sleeping Pills
Pain Relievers
Diet Pills, “stay awake” drugs, and other medications with stimulants (e.g. caffeine, ephedrine, pseudoephedrine)

As a consumer, be sure to carefully read all drug information. If you must take prescription and/or OTC medications and drive, consult with your physician for further direction or alternatives.

Gateway Foundation is here to help educate the community about substance use in any realm, as well as providing treatment for those who may need substance use disorder treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder of any kind, visit recoverygateway.org or call 877-505-HOPE (4673) to learn about treatment options.

Drugged Driving Becoming More Prevalent Than Drunk Driving

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month to Focus on Growing Epidemic

drunk driving drugged drivingDecember is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month and also the time of year for holiday parties, family gatherings and travel. During this time, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers wants to provide a reminder of the risks associated with driving under the influence of alcohol as well as drugs – not just illicit drugs, but prescription and over the counter medications too.

Unfortunately, many people have the misconception that driving under the influence of alcohol is worse than driving while impaired by substances such as marijuana or prescription medication.

“There has been a reduction in drinking and driving due to decades of concerted efforts between local, state and federal governments, safety advocates and law enforcement,” said Gateway President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Britton. “During National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, Gateway wants to continue to highlight drunk driving issues, while also exercising the same vigilance towards the issue of drugged driving.”

As the overall number of drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States declines, the percentage of drugged drivers involved in these accidents increases. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey, more than 22 percent of drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

The spike in the percentage of drugged drivers is concerning, and in recent years, safety advocates and political figures, including the President of the United States, have done their part to emphasize this topic.

In his 2014 National Impaired Driving Prevention Month Presidential Proclamation, President Barack Obama stated that his administration is working to keep drugged drivers off the road and help bolster law enforcement officials’ ability to identify drug-impaired drivers.

“One of the first steps to overcoming this drugged driving epidemic is to educate the public about substance abuse and treatment options,” said Britton. “Efforts like National Impaired Driving Prevention Month help bring these issues to the forefront and provide Gateway with an opportunity to educate.”

Learn more about the effects of drug abuse and addiction>

Gateway Tip: Calculate Alcohol Content to Avoid Party-Related Peril

mixed drinks, dui, alcohol content, blood alcohol content, bacSince mixed drinks contain varying degrees of alcohol, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers urges holiday party goers to “do the math” to avoid unnecessary embarrassment or adversity. Even the best-intentioned can commit the dreaded party foul with factors like, super-sized glasses, unpredictable pours, and cocktails containing different types of alcohol. However, handy online alcohol calculators and cell phone apps can help establish responsible drinking limits to ensure the comfort, joy and safety of all.

SIZE AND VOLUME MATTERS

A “drink” is defined as: 12 ounces of beer with a 5 percent alcohol content, 5 ounces of wine with a 12 percent alcohol content and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, which are 40 percent alcohol by volume.

Take wine for example, nowadays many wines served in restaurants and bars contain 15 percent alcohol. While a 4-ounce glass is a more appropriate serving size, the average size of wine glasses at restaurants and bars is slightly over 6 ounces, which is the equivalent of one and a half servings of alcohol in this instance.

Beer drinkers may find themselves in the same boat. A 12-ounce bottle of Bud Light has 4.2 percent alcohol, but the same-size bottle of Bud Light Platinum has 6 percent alcohol by volume, a nearly 50 percent increase.

Mixed drinks often contain more alcohol than one standard drink. Consider a Gin and Tonic: at 94.6 percent alcohol, 2 ounces of gin combined with 5 ounces of tonic water equates to 1.6 servings of alcohol.

“If a woman thinks, ‘I can enjoy two gin and tonics and still be safe to drive,’ she actually consumed over 3 servings of alcohol, and may be above the legal alcohol limit and eligible for a DUI,” says Dr. John Larson, Corporate Medical Director, Gateway Treatment Centers.

Don’t let a night out on the town ruin the holiday spirit. Search the app store found on most mobile phones for blood alcohol content (BAC) calculator and determine personal alcohol limit today. To figure out the true alcohol content of favorite mixed drinks, like mojitos, margaritas and cosmos, click for NIAA’s alcohol calculator.

For people who may have developed a serious drinking problem, Gateway can help get life back on track. Visit RecoveryGateway.org to learn about a free, confidential consultation.

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