Marijuana, other drugs often found in traffic fatalities

A new report, Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for States, released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) shows that nearly half – 44 percent – of fatally injured, drug-tested drivers had marijuana, opioids or other substances in their system at the time of death. This rate represents a 16 percent rise from just a decade ago. At that time, 28 percent of deceased drivers tested positive for drugs.

Marijuana was by far the most prevalent drug, with 38 percent of tested drivers showing positive results for it. Opioids were next, with 16 percent, and a further 4 percent showed both of those. The remaining 42 percent of tests showed other drugs.

Alcohol still remains a very popular intoxicant, with 38 percent of fatalities among drivers revealing the presence of alcohol. Encouragingly, though, this is a three percent drop since 2006.

Difficulties determining the scope of the drugged driving problem

We’ve discussed in past posts how hard it’s been for law enforcement officials to get a handle on the issue of drugged driving, particularly trying to perform roadside testing using outdated methods better suited to alcohol intoxication. Many of the same difficulties seen roadside on a small scale in Tennessee are shared across the country.

Adding to the mix are these complications:

•· Not all drivers injured in accidents are tested for the presence of drugs, even when there are fatalities

•· Some drugs might not be detected by a standard screening

•· People metabolize drugs differently; a substance that causes intoxication in one may have no effect on another

•· Some tested drugs are known not to cause impairment, so the results of broad-spectrum testing could be skewed

Even though difficulties exist, police are still keen to catch anyone who gets behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating substance. If you’ve been arrested, make sure that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area. Not having qualified counsel puts you at risk for civil rights violations and a statistically higher chance of negative penalties.

Skip to content