The Ways Various Drugs Impact Drivers

DUI charges, Naperville DUI lawyers, sleep aids, drunk driving, criminal defense strategyGenerally, an image of a drunk driver comes to mind when you hear the term “DUI.” When a driver is found to have a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than the legal limit, he or she can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and, if convicted, face penalties that include fines, a driver’s license suspension, and even potential jail time. Drivers can also face DUI charges for driving while impaired by other substances, both legal and illegal.

Alcohol’s effects on drivers are well-known. It can impair a driver’s perception of his or her environment and ability to judge distances and speeds. The effects other drugs can have on drivers are not as well-known.

Below are four drug categories and how their use can affect drivers. When you are prescribed medication, always discuss its side effects with your doctor and do not drive after taking the medication until you know how it affects you.

Sleep Aids

Sleep aids are available with prescriptions and over the counter. After taking a sleep aid like Lunesta or Ambien before a full night’s sleep, an individual can experience side effects the next morning that impact his or her ability to safely operate a vehicle. These side effects include:

  • Drowsiness;
  • Dizziness;
  • Uncontrollable shaking of parts of the body; and
  • Attention and memory difficulties.


Marijuana is a depressant. It slows the activity in the user’s central nervous system, making him or her feel relaxed. Driving after using marijuana can be dangerous for an individual and for others on the roadway because marijuana impairs a driver’s ability to make safe decisions and gauge hazards in the roadway.


Painkillers like morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone are known collectively as opioids or narcotics. Heroin is also part of this drug class. Opioids can be very dangerous for drivers because they are depressants, which means they slow down central nervous system. A few of the effects opioids can have on drivers include:

  • Slowed reaction times;
  • Drowsiness;
  • Difficulty paying attention to the task of driving; and
  • Difficulty processing information.


Stimulants include caffeine, a relatively harmless substance that many use before their morning commute, and far more dangerous substances like cocaine and prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.

Stimulants can impair a driver by making him or her overconfident behind the wheel, which can put the driver in dangerous positions. A driver can also become aggressive while driving under the influence of a stimulant and experience difficulty paying attention to the roadway.

Work with an Experienced Naperville DUI Lawyer

When you are facing a DUI charge, whether you allegedly drove while under the influence of alcohol or another substance, remember that you can potentially have your charge lowered or dismissed by presenting a well-crafted legal defense strategy to the court. To learn more and start working on your case’s defense, contact our team of Naperville DUI lawyers at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation in our office.