Nitrous oxide (N2O), also known as “laughing gas,” is a colorless gas used by dentists to sedate patients. It is combined with oxygen and used during some dental treatments to help ease patients’ anxiety. Not only does the gas cause “pleasant sensations,” but it can help patients relax in the dentist chair.
Side effects from nitrous oxide may include:
- Excessive sweating or shivering, and
- In serious cases, heart attacks, seizures, coma, lung collapses, blood vessel hemorrhages in the lungs, and coma.
Aside from numbing pain during dental procedures, nitrous oxide is also used in whipped cream aerosol cans and in engines to boost engine power.
Nitrous oxide is not risk-free. When nitrous is inhaled, there is a risk of death if there is a lack of oxygen. There is a higher risk of death if the individual uses a lot quickly, or if they consume the gas in an enclosed space.
Driving Under the Influence of Nitrous
Can you get a DUI for nitrous in Florida? Yes, you can. Under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes, you commit the offense of DUI if you are driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle in Florida and you are under the influence of: 1) alcoholic beverages, 2) any chemical substance covered in Sec. 877.111, or 3) any controlled substance set forth in Chapter 893 and your normal faculties are impaired by any of these substances.
Nitrous or “laughing gas” is a chemical substance under Sec. 877.111. Under this section, it’s illegal to inhale or ingest, or possess with the intent to breathe nitrous oxide unless you are receiving nitrous under the care of a licensed practitioner. And it’s illegal to drive on it.
The penalties for driving under the influence of nitrous, whether you took it for recreational purposes or received it during a medical procedure, are the same as driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages and includes fines and imprisonment.