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Common Legal Issues for Substance Abusers

Substance abuse claims too many lives each year, and the road to recovery is long and arduous. While modern society offers a better quality of life than at any other time in the history of man, there are also many pitfalls these modern conveniences create. Drugs and alcohol are always within easy access, and often romanticized in pop culture. In America people have the freedom to do whatever they want with their lives, but when it comes to substance abuse there are often other lives affected, and sometimes even lost due to these downward spirals. That creates all sorts of legal issues, with court dockets full of drug cases and the prison system overflowing with drug-related felons. Here are some of the common legal issues plaguing substance abusers today.

One of the most frequent situations involves those who drive a vehicle while impaired. This is always a serious offense, as lives are at stake. If you’re pulled over for driving under the influence you will be arrested, and your car will be impounded. If there’s no property damage or injury you’ll most likely lose your license, but there could also be a cash fine and a sentence of community service for some period of time. If your drug or alcohol impairment causes an accident and people are hurt or killed, you will most likely go to jail. Reckless endangerment is often the charge, but courts have convicted drug abusers on manslaughter charges as well. You can expect huge fines in these cases, the potential permanent loss of your license and almost sure jail time.

When children are subjected to an individual’s substance abuse, serious legal issues are often the result. A person under the influence of an illegal drug simply cannot be put in charge of a child. That means if something happens while your child is under your care and you are taking drugs, your child could be taken from you. You could be charged with endangerment, and will have to fight in court in order to get your child back. Since drug abuse often leads to physical abuse you will always have to go through an observation period as well. If your child is injured while under your care, a prison sentence could also be an issue.

Substance abuse leads to committed crimes in many cases, and all too often those crimes turn violent. Drug addicts lose hold of their actions, and make bad decisions due to the desperation for that next fix. Drugs have been found to motivate many crimes, including burglary, grand theft, robbery, assault, rape and even murder. Substance abuse impairment might be your excuse, but it certainly won’t get you off the hook. Depending on the severity of the crime, you could end up with community service and required entry in a drug treatment program, or financial penalties and extensive jail sentences.

Even casual drug users often end up in the sights of the law due to simple possession. The laws have been changing surrounding marijuana use and possession, but in many states this will still get you a fine and a possible jail stay. If you’re in possession of narcotics you will most likely go to prison, especially if you have significant quantities or if it’s broken up into smaller amounts for sale. Possession is one thing, but possession with intent to distribute is far more severe. You’ll have to attend rehab in Los Angeles or your home region, but depending on the amount of the substance in question on your person, you might not see the light of day for several months, or even years.