In America, drinking and driving has been a major problem. The links are clear: the more drinking that is done by an individual, the greater the chance they will be unequipped to handle a vehicle in a safe manner. As a result of this knowledge, laws have been in place that specifically target this type of driving. For instance, criminal charges have been imposed for those who engage in these behaviors and dram shop laws establish liability for establishments that serve alcohol. Awareness has been raised and many private groups champion against drunk driving. Driving while high on drugs however does not receive the same level of attention. In many instances, this can be explained by the fact that often drugs and alcohol are present in a person’s system when they are caught for driving under the influence. Some drugs, like cocaine, have been proven to have a detrimental effect on drivers. Other types of drugs, like some prescription drugs and marijuana, have been a bit tougher to prove a direct link between impairment and driving.
According to statistics the most common form of impairment while driving is drug use. Thirty-five percent of those who are injured in car accidents have reported to be under the influence of at least one drug, excluding alcohol. The number jumps to just over half when you consider those who use drugs and alcohol together. Studies in this area are sparse because testing for various types of drugs is not as available as for alcohol. Thus, when there is a combination of alcohol and drugs involved in an accident, law enforcement is more likely to report the alcohol in order to obtain a conviction or for statistical purposes.
Deciphering how to measure the impairment of drugs on the body is very complex as often there is no correlation between the amount consumed and its subsequent measurable presence in the body. Each drug is different, which adds to the complexity of finding a single way to measure drug intoxication. The U.S. Department of Transportation finally developed a “per se” standard to measure drug intoxication. Essentially, any evidence of illegal drug use was enough to establish intoxication. While this gets around the need to create expensive and complicated testing, others argue that there is an unfairness with such tests because one can be convicted of driving under the influence who may not have actually taken drugs within the expected period of intoxication.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.