You can’t drive safely if you’re impaired. That’s why it’s illegal everywhere in America to drive under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, opioids, methamphetamines, or any potentially impairing drug–prescribed or over the counter. Driving while impaired by any substance—legal or illegal—puts you and others in harm’s way. Learn the latest research on drug-impaired driving, misconceptions about marijuana use, and what you can do to make smarter choices to drive safely.
Many Substances Can Impair Driving
Driving impaired by any substance—alcohol or drugs, whether legal or illegal—is against the law in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Law enforcement officers are trained to observe drivers’ behavior and to identify impaired drivers. Even in states where marijuana laws have changed, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of the drug.
NHTSA’s National Roadside Survey conducted in 2013-2014 (PDF, 173 KB) found that 20 percent of surveyed drivers tested positive for potentially impairing drugs.
Surveys conducted by NHTSA show the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana increased between 2007 and 2014. In 2007, NHTSA’s National Roadside Survey (PDF, 1 MB) found that 8.6 percent of weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for marijuana. In the 2013-2014 survey, 12.6 percent of weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for marijuana. That’s a 48-percent increase in less than 10 years.
While the presence of a drug in a driver’s system doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re impaired, these findings show the importance of raising awareness about the risks of drug-impaired driving.
We can all save lives by making smarter choices.
- If you use an impairing drug, designate a sober driver, call a cab, or use a ride-hailing service.
- Don’t let friends get behind the wheel if they’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- If you’re hosting a party where alcohol or other substances will be used, it’s your job to make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.
- Always wear your seat belt—it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.
NHTSA’s National Drug-Impaired Driving Initiative
In 2018, NHTSA launched its If You Feel Different, You Drive Different campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of driving while impaired by drugs, and to promote safer choices. Any time you consume a substance that makes you feel different, you aren’t safe to drive. Impaired driving isn’t a mistake; it’s a crime.
Those who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, whether obtained legally or illegally, pose a danger to themselves, their passengers, and other road users.
NHTSA, under the leadership of Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, is determined to put an end to impaired driving—to save lives. Remember: Impairment is impairment, no matter the substance.