It is technically illegal to drive while under the influence of any substance that could impair one’s ability to safely operate a vehicle. Most people know about this rule in large part because of the enforcement and public awareness efforts dedicated to fighting drunk driving in particular.
People know that police officers can perform breath tests and arrest anyone on suspicion of a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense. People often feel less clear about the rules that apply to driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) allegations. Those accused of a DUID offense, whether the drugs were prescription medications or prohibited street drugs, will face the same penalties as those accused of DWI offenses in most cases. However, there is one very important difference between cases of drugged driving and drunk driving.
There is no per se limit for drug impairment in Missouri
There are actually two reasons for police officers to arrest someone for alcohol intoxication at the wheel. The first is when a driver fails a chemical breath test and therefore confirms that they are over the legal limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The second is when someone has shown obvious impairment in their skill level at the wheel.
Failing a chemical test will mean that someone violated the per se limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC). For those over the age of 21 who are in control of a standard passenger vehicle, the BAC limit will be 0.08%. Anyone who tests at or over that level could face arrest and prosecution. There is no such limit in the law for prescription medication or prohibited drugs. Simply having drugs in one’s bloodstream could be enough to trigger an impaired driving offense if the substance is known to affect people’s skill at the wheel. Everything from party drugs to anti-epilepsy medication could potentially lead to someone’s arrest for a DUID after a crash or a traffic stop.
Knowing the rules helps drivers protect themselves
Some people make silly mistakes when interacting with police officers that end up having lasting repercussions on their lives. People who know the rules about impaired driving and other common traffic offenses can both avoid breaking the law and saying something to police officers that might make it seem like they broke the law.
Understanding how a lack of per se limits can enhance someone’s risk of drug driving accusations may lead to motorists making more informed choices before driving and also during traffic stops.