Drugged driving is becoming more prevalent in California and the rest of the U.S. A new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association studied the fatal car crash data for 2016 and found that 44 percent of fatally injured drivers who were tested for drugs came up positive; this is a jump from a decade ago when 26 percent of such drivers tested positive.
Among the drug-positive fatalities in 2016, 38 percent were found with some form of marijuana, 16 percent with opioids and 4 percent with both. Approximately 51 percent tested positive for two or more drugs, and 49 percent of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for alcohol intoxication were also found with drugs in their system.
Both the GHSA and Responsibility.org, the organization that funded the study, note that alcohol-impaired driving and drug-impaired driving should not be thought of separately. Methods for testing the presence of alcohol and of drugs are similar; the GHSA and Responsibility.org even offer two grant programs to help police detect signs of impaired driving.
However, there are several challenges. First, the presence of drugs does not automatically mean impairment. Drugs have different effects on different constitutions. Drug testing methods also vary from state to state, and the sheer number of drugs to test for can be overwhelming. Moreover, not all drivers are tested.
Marijuana use has increased considerably, and its ability to impair driving cannot be argued in general. If officers find that drugs were involved in a car accident, those who were not to blame may be able to file a third-party insurance claim. A lawyer may review the crash more thoroughly before proceeding to negotiations. If successful, the victim might be covered for medical bills, vehicle damage and more.