A new study by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the alcohol distiller-backed nonprofit Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility finds that of American drivers killed in car crashes, incidents with drugs have surpassed those with just alcohol. Both illegal and prescription drugs were involved in 43 percent of deadly 2015 car crashes while about 37 percent involved alcohol. More than one-third of those who took drugs used marijuana. Testing for a majority of drugs is tricky, as there is not something akin to a Breathalyzer test for them. The governors association wants law enforcement to have more training for such cases. Such training is already going on in California with the California Highway Patrol.
The impact of marijuana laws, which have made recreational marijuana legal in eight states and the District of Columbia as of this year, isn’t immediately clear. The report cited multiple studies regarding weed and deadly crashes. One study from 2013 said crashes involving marijuana rose in just three states out of 14 that had medical marijuana laws prior to 2010. The report cautions that a combination of multiple vices bodes particularly poorly.”Impairment can increase if drugs are used in combination or together with alcohol,” according to the study. “Alcohol and marijuana used together are particularly risky.””Drugged driving is a complicated issue,” according to Jim Hedlund, a former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration official and author of the report. “The more we can synthesize the latest research and share what’s going on around the country to address drug-impaired driving, the better positioned states will be to prevent it.”
Frank T. Luciano has almost 40 years of experience in representing people charged with drunk driving and drug related charges.