Common Legal Consequences of Substance Abuse
Modern society offers a wide range of conveniences designed to make our lives easier. It’s not a perfect system, but if you live in the United States, chances are you’ve got plenty of opportunities to create the life of your dreams. Access to modern medicine, a competitive job market and a higher standard of living than anywhere else on the planet has paved the way for some incredible advances. But it also makes it incredibly easy to go down a dark path. Substance abuse is a major problem today, and whether it’s due to a genetic predisposition, a traumatic event or a simple matter of bad decision-making, the consequences can be severe. There are a host of physical symptoms you’ll contend with, and the most serious cases almost always end in death, and the destruction of a family. But it isn’t only your heath that’s at risk. There can often be legal problems as well, and a moment’s bad decision made while under the influence can change the whole course of your life. Here are some of the common legal consequences of substance abuse.
One of the biggest issues arising from this behavior is driving while under the influence. If you’re pulled over while impaired by drugs or alcohol, you will be arrested, and your car will be compounded. You’ll be charged with Driving Under the Influence, and your fate may end up in the hands of a jury. If it’s your first offense you could get off with a suspended license and some community service. But if anyone is injured due to your actions, or if there is some major property damage you’ll most likely face a steep fine and serve jail time. Your driver’s license might even be permanently revoked.
There is still a very real war on drugs being waged by the federal government and all of the major enforcement agencies. Those who suffer from substance abuse issues often push their luck, and are caught in possession of illegal drugs. Depending on the amount of drugs on your person you might be charged with criminal possession. You’ll be arrested, and will probably end up serving a period of probation which could include checking in with a probation officer for drug testing and some amount of community service. If you have a significant quantity of drugs on you, or if the amount is split up in such a way that it appears you are looking to sell the drugs you will be charged with intent to distribute. That means a heavier fine and almost certain jail time.
Substance abuse can have a huge impact on your career as well. Most employers will perform a background check when you apply for a job, and if you have a criminal record due to drug charges you probably won’t be hired. Drug tests are often a part of the interview process, and people with a substance abuse problem often won’t be able to remain clean long enough to pass. If your goal is to work as a teacher, doctor or in the legal field you cannot have any sort of criminal record at all, and problems with substance abuse will keep you from that line of work. Licensed professionals in many industries who are charged with a drug crime could lose that license, therefore impairing their ability to make a living.
Crime and drug abuse all too often walk hand in hand, and many violent crimes are somehow related to substance issues. Drugs change your ability to perceive a situation as it is, and always impair your judgement and reasoning skills. You’ll be charged as usual for any of these crimes, but if substance abuse is involved you could face tack on charges that increase your punishment.
Finally, there’s the terrifying situation of a child being brought into the middle of a substance abuse situation. If you are supposed to be caring for a child and something goes wrong, that substance abuse will come to light. You’ll be forced into substance abuse treatment, but may also lose the custody of your child and risk a child endangerment charge as well.