Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs

Laws Regarding Drugged Driving Can Be Confusing

There are many laws related to drugged driving. Some of these are federal, while others are state. Each U.S. state maintains its own regulations regarding drug use. Some states have zero tolerance for drugs being used at all, more so before or while driving. One third of all American states take this zero tolerance position for drugged driving. The rest have limitations governing legal operation of a motor vehicle when using drugs. Because of these variances from state-to-state, knowing your rights in a drugged driving auto accident requires the expert knowledge of a personal injury lawyer.

With so many changes occurring in legalization of some drugs for medical and recreational use, state laws can be even more confusing. States are finding that adapting motor vehicle laws to these drug law changes can be complex. This is because each person’s body reacts differently to use of some of these drugs with such reactions related to personal chemistry, the type of drug used, built up tolerance, amount consumed, body size and other factors. Protecting people on the roadways is difficult when one person is fully impaired after using a particular substance, whereas another may be completely lucid.

More Auto Accidents Now From Drugged Driving

As legalization of some drugs occurs in states across the country, fatal auto accidents involving these drugs become more commonplace. A recent study in the Journal of Epidemiology presented results of driver toxicology tests taken within one hour of auto vehicle accidents. The study showed that in 1999, these tests resulted in 12 percent of auto accident-related fatalities being attributed to impaired driving, with four percent being blamed specifically on marijuana use. In 2010, the same tests of drivers after auto accidents resulted in 28 percent of fatalities being blamed on impaired driving, over 11 percent of those being attributable to marijuana. Canada Drugs Direct 

Similar results have been provided by other studies, such as one conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That study reports that 22 percent of drivers tested positive for driving while impaired by prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or illicit drugs.

Results of this NHTSA study were consistent between daytime and nighttime driving. But age was a factor in statistic changes over time, with illegal drug use by drivers aged 50 to 59 increasing to 7.2 percent in 2010 from 2002’s 3.4 percent. Drivers in this age group were responsible for one fourth of drugged driving deaths in 2010.

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