As of current news, it has been found that more Americans are being found under the influence of drugs while they drive. 38% of drivers, in the research results, were killed in accidents and tested for drugs, only to have positive results from these tests. Over one-third of the drugs identified in these tests were marijuana in some form; however, 10% were amphetamines as well. Things are complicated further by the fact that marijuana is now legal for medical use in 23 states and is being approved for recreational use in many more states.
Further still in the realm of statistics, it has been found in a 2010 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 10 million Americans drove under the influence of illegal drugs in the previous year. Again, in a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) survey, more than 18% of fatally injured drivers have tested positive for at least one illegal or prescription drug in 2009. Another survey by the NHTSA has found that one in five motorists killed in car crashes in 2009 tested positive for drugs. The thing to remember is that different drugs can affect drivers in very different ways. Here are some impairing effects of various illegal drugs:
- Marijuana can cause relaxation, euphoria, disorientation, altered time and space perception, drowsiness, paranoia, image distortion, and increased heart rate.
- Cocaine causes euphoria, excitation, dizziness, increased focus and alertness at first, confusion and disoriented behavior later, irritability, paranoia, aggressiveness, and increased heart rate.
- Methamphetamine can cause a sense of euphoria, excitation, hallucinations, delusions, insomnia, poor impulse control, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure.
- Morphine and Heroin can cause intense euphoria, drowsiness, relaxation, sedation, disconnectedness, mental clouding, analgesia, depressed heart rate, nausea, and vomiting.
- LSD may cause hallucinations, altered mental state, delusions, impaired depth, time and space perception, hypertension, and tremors.
How to Prevent These Numbers
So, how can organizations and officials work together to lower the numbers mentioned previously? Reports on these high numbers make a number of recommendations on how federal and state officials should tackle issues of drugged driving in the rise. These recommendations include education to drivers about the risks of drugged driving, gathering and analyzing data, assessing and updating drugged driving laws, training for police and judges, and referring offenders to treatment if need be. Research will also continue on how drugs can actually impair and affect driving ability. This is due to the fact that too much is unknown about the effect had on driving ability – data will have to be improved upon to measure drug-impaired driving characteristics in the future.
California’s Specific Drugged Driving Laws
In California, drugged driving law can be found at Sec. 23152 of the California Vehicle Code. It states that it is unlawful for a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This means that it is a crime to drive while impaired from drug use in this state. There is no fixed amount of drugs within the blood system that determines a conviction and being impaired is at the discretion of the prosecutor.
From a legal standpoint, if you have become injured in a drugged driving accident or had partial fault in such accident, you may have a case. Talk to an experienced attorney today who understands the complex laws surrounding drugged driving. You can call WTW today for a consultation and to have any further questions answered.