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Michigan’s New Drugged Driving Law: What Drivers Should Know

Did you know, in Michigan you can be stopped for drugged driving, even if your drug is prescribed by a doctor? Here’s what you should know about Michigan’s new “drugged driving” law.

What Does Drugged Driving Mean?

Michigan has had laws against drunk driving and drugged driving for years. The state’s Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) law prohibits driving with a blood alcohol content over 0.08%. It also applies to drugs in your body that “substantially affect” your ability to drive.

Last year, Michigan added “Operating With Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine” (OWPD), which prohibits driving with any amount of things like methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana, which the federal and state governments say have no medical use.

Michigan’s Drugged Driving Law

Since January 15, 2015, Michigan’s new Drugged Driving law has been making it easier for officers to find and arrest those driving while high. It allows police who have a “reasonable cause” to believe a driver is intoxicated to ask the person to submit to a “preliminary roadside analysis.” This includes the standard “preliminary breath test” (PBT) to test for alcohol, as well as preliminary drug tests. They can use these tests to detect:

  • Alcohol
  • Controlled substances (including prescription drugs)
  • Intoxicating substances (including aerosol from huffing)
  • Any combination of these substances.

If a driver refuses a preliminary roadside analysis, he or she could lose his or her driver’s license for up to a year.

What If I Have a Prescription?

Many prescriptions (like Vicodin) are considered controlled substances and must be prescribed to be used legally. This could be because of the side effects or risk of addiction.

If you are taking a prescription medication make sure to read the warning labels very carefully. Many controlled substances will warn you that using them could affect your ability to drive. If you are driving while substantially affected by a prescription drug you could be putting yourself, your passengers, and other motorists in danger.

What About When There’s an Accident?

When someone is hit by a drunk driver or drugged driver, a later conviction of OWI or OWPD can prove the driver was at fault. That can make the drunk driver’s insurance available to seriously injured victims and can even result in personal liability by the drunk or drugged driver.

People die every day because another motorist chose to drive while intoxicated. If you have been drinking or using drugs – or if your medication affects your ability to drive – find someone to give you a ride. It could save you the trouble of a “drugged driving” stop, and could even save someone’s life.

David Christensen is an auto accident attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He represents the victims of drunk driving and drugged driving accidents and their families to help get the compensation they need. If you know someone who was hit by a drugged driver, contact Christensen Law today.