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What Happens to Your Driving When You're Buzzed or High?

Here is a simple fact: No one can drive safely after drinking alcohol or taking other drugs. Even legal medications you get from your doctor can affect the way you drive. Remember, you need hands, eyes, and feet to control the car, and your brain to control the way you drive. If your brain is affected by drugs, you aren't alert enough to make decisions that could save your life or others' lives. Even a small amount of alcohol or an over-the-counter (OTC) drug can make you and unsafe driver.

Here's the deal:

  • Alcohol is a depressant that affects vision, coordination, reaction time, and judgment.
  • Marijuana and other hallucinogens hurt your depth perception, attention span, concentration, reaction time, and muscle strength.
  • Stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine or cocaine, may increase alertness, but not in a good way. Stimulants make you more hostile and aggressive on the road. Cocaine can cause you to have blurry vision and to see and hear things that aren't there.
  • And mixing drugs makes their effects even stronger. Now imagine trying to drive safely after using any of these drugs—it would be impossible.

In a nutshell, this how alcohol and drugs affect driving. They:

  • Slow brain functions so you can't react quickly enough in a dangerous situation;
  • Reduce the ability to judge how fast you are moving or your distance from other cars, people, or objects;
  • Give you false confidence, which makes you think you're driving better than you actually are;
  • Reduce your ability to focus on the road and multitask, such as looking straight ahead while using your peripheral vision to watch for pedestrians; and
  • Make you feel sleepy or tired.

So if you have taken any substances that would mess up your ability to drive, don't drive! Stop yourself. Stop a friend. Don't drink or use drugs and drive.