A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association has shed
some light on a growing safety hazard on our roads: drivers intoxicated
by drugs are causing more accidents and fatalities than ever before. The
problem only gets worse when you consider that many of the drugs which
can cause impairment are not only legal, but readily available as over-the-counter
In the year 2015, 57% of all drivers who were fatally injured in a car
accident were tested for drugs. Of those tested, over 40% came back positive
for some form of drugs. Perhaps the biggest offender was marijuana, which
appeared in 36.5% of all drug-positive cases.
While many people are quick to point the finger at marijuana, which has
become legal in some form in several states within just the last few years
(including Washington in 2012), the study shows that all types of drugs,
including prescription drugs, can have a negative impact. The study states
“A large enough dose of most drugs can impair. The purpose of any
drug is to affect physical or mental conditions in some way.”
Nonetheless, marijuana related deaths have spiked significantly. In the
summer of 2009, Colorado relaxed the restrictions on who could cultivate
marijuana. In the first six months of 2009, marijuana was present in 5.9%
of all fatal motor vehicle crashes. By the end of 2011 that number had
nearly doubled to 10%. Even here in Washington, the number of marijuana-intoxicated
drivers is on the rise, with THC-positive drivers increasing from 14.6%
to 19.4% within six months, and then up to 21.4% six months after that.
Understand the Risks
The study states that one of the biggest factors in this rise is that people
do not understand the risk that driving while drug-intoxicated carries,
and how similar it is to that of driving while drunk. The study cites
a survey which shows that only 29% of drivers think that driving after
using marijuana is a problem, as opposed to 64% who believe driving after
drinking is an issue. Several other studies have shown that alcohol and
drug-induced intoxication are not all that different in their impairment
of your ability to drive.
The study lists five key conclusions about drugs and crash risk:
- Any drug may increase a driver’s crash risk.
- The effect of any drug varies substantially between drivers.
- The effect of any drug increases as its concentration increases.
Most illegal drugs may
at least double a driver’s crash risk.
- Some individual drugs multiple drugs, and drugs combined with alcohol increase
crash risk substantially.
Law Enforcement has begun developing methods to crack down on those who
drive while intoxicated by drugs of any sort, whether marijuana or any
other type of drug, but a breath test for these types of drugs is still
likely several years off. In the meantime, officers are focusing on training
and developing better ways of finding and arresting drivers who are intoxicated
by drugs to try to make the roads safer.
To read the study entirely, download the PDF here.
Have you been arrested and accused of DUI? At the Law Office of
Mark W. Garka, PLLC, we are ready and capable of standing up to defend your freedoms. My firm
recognizes that in many cases accusations are obtained through errors
in procedure and that the evidence against you was falsely obtained. I
take pride in fighting back against your prosecution and helping you restore
your life back to normal. Trust your case to my skilled team and put nearly
20 years and thousands of cases of experience on your side.
Get in touch with me today! Call the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC
at 888.252.1961 for a case evaluation if you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI.