Drunk driving has been declining on America’s roads, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). However, the news isn’t all good. The same GHSA study found that drugged driving has been increasing — and the results have been deadly. The percentage of drivers killed in crashes who were found to have drugs in their system rose from 28 percent in 2006 to 44 percent in 2016.
While one might suspect that the opioid epidemic in this country has something to do with this increase, in fact, just 16 percent of the drivers who perished while under the influence of drugs were on opioids. Some 38 percent had marijuana in their systems.
While the relationship between alcohol and dangerous driving has been long documented, the link between drugs and driving impairment isn’t as easy to prove. An official with AAA notes, “With alcohol, we have 30 years of research looking at the relationship between how much alcohol is in a person’s blood and the odds they will cause a traffic crash. For drugs, that relationship is not known.”
A person can have drugs in his or her system and not be impaired. For example, THC (marijuana’s active ingredient) is detectable in people’s systems for weeks and even longer after they used the drug.
There’s still no roadside test comparable to a Breathalyzer for alcohol that can detect drugs in a person’s system. That can make it harder to determine for certain whether someone was driving under the influence of drugs. However, blood and urine tests may be used to make such a determination.
Just because a drug is prescribed and you’re taking it legally and responsibly, that doesn’t mean that you can’t face DUI charges. If you or a loved one is in that position, it’s important to seek experienced legal guidance.
Source: The Fix, “Has Drugged Driving Surpassed Drunk Driving?,” Keri Blakinger, June 04, 2018