Drivers in Massachusetts understand it is against the law to drink and drive, but it seems they are not as clear as to the rules related to taking drugs and driving. The truth is, drugged driving has become a big problem in the state and getting convicted results in the same consequences as drunk driving. While it can be harder to prove someone is driving impaired, law enforcement continues to work on improving testing to make it easier.
According to Fox 25 News, arrests related to drugged driving have surpassed those involving drinking. Drugs refer not only to illegal substances but also legalized marijuana, prescribed medication and even over-the-counter remedies. Used irresponsibly, drugs and medication can cause impairments that range from drowsiness to poor judgment to aggressiveness, and all of these can lead to dangerous situations on the road.
In the past, there have not been any field sobriety tests geared specifically towards drug use and driving, so it makes it more difficult to prosecute those arrested for driving impaired. There is now a series of tests that can be performed, but not all officers are trained to conduct them. And, unlike implied consent laws for drinking, drivers can refuse to submit to the tests without additional consequences, making a case harder to stand up in court.
However, the penalties are major for those who do get convicted of drugged driving. According to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, drivers can face jail time of up to two and a half years, a fine of between $500 and $5,000 or both. Add to that lawyers' fees, alcohol and drug education classes and probation, and drivers pay a high price time-wise and monetarily.