Drugged Driving

Courts are struggling with cases alleging driving while impaired by illegal drugs, prescription drugs or over the counter substances.  While these cases have a lot in common with driving under the influence of alcohol cases, there are some unique issues that develop in these cases.  The following resources provide a variety of information on this topic.

Drugged Driving. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. – This site answers many frequently asked questions about drugged driving and the consequences of drugged driving.

NCSC Judicial Resource Center for Impaired Driving – This site answers common questions about impaired driving.

Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheet (March 2004, revised April 2014) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - These Fact Sheets represent the state of current scientific knowledge in the area of drugs and human performance for the 16 drugs selected for evaluation. The selected drugs include over-the-counter medications such as dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine; prescription medications such as carisoprodol, diazepam and zolpidem; and abused and/or illegal drugs such as cocaine, GHB, ketamine, LSD, marijuana, methadone, methamphetamine, MDMA, morphine, PCP and toluene.

Stop Drugged Driving. Stop Drugged Driving – This organization focuses on the prevention and enforcement of drugged driving laws. They provide research on drugged driving and follow legislation and news about drugged driving.

Get the Facts about Drugged Driving. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration – These facts offer a look into how dangerous drugged driving is and the consequences of getting caught.

Office of National Drug Control Policy – Drugged Driving. The White House – The Office of National Drug Control Policy covers the basics of drugged driving, offers research and resources for further information and discusses options for what individuals can to do help prevent drugged driving.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs – The Other DUI. Romell Cooks. (2012). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – This resource delves into the specific drugs and the problems they cause when it come to driving.

Drug Testing and Drug-Involved Driving of Fatally Injured Drivers in the U.S.: 2005-2009. (October 2011). Office of the National Drug Control Policy – This report analyzes data in order to determine the relationship between using drugs and driving. Their goal is to illuminate the situation in order to create policy that better prevents drugged driving.

The Dangers of Drugged Driving . (March 2011). Drinking Problem - This page provides an overview about drugged driving. Methods for educating the public about the effects of drugged driving and prevention methods, like the “per se” laws are described.

Drugged Driving Expert Panel Report: A Consensus Protocol for Assessing the Potential of Drugs to Impair Driving . (March 2011). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - This report aims to determine the potential harm that certain drugs, illicit and prescription have on driving. Specifically, this report offers a description of the methods and procedures involved with testing and evaluating the drugs.

Drugged Driving Research: A White Paper. Robert L. Dupont. (March 2011). Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. – This paper offers recommendations as to how to achieve the White House’s goal of reducing drugged driving by 10% by 2014.

Prescription Drug and Driving Awareness Campaign Launched . (February 2011). Delaware Office of Highway Safety - This news release describes the awareness campaign concerning driving while under the influence of prescription drugs. The effects and consequences of a DUI are also described.

Drugged Driving: “What DO We Know?” Sgt. Michael Iwai, Ken Stecker, Jeff Michael. (2011). Governor’s Highway Safety Association – This presentation provides the law enforcement perspective, describes the problem extensively, and describes the Michigan laws in relation to drugs and alcohol and driving.

NIDA DrugFacts: Drugged Driving. (October 2013). National Institute on Drug Abuse – This site answers common questions about what drugged driving is, how often it happens and the dangers of driving drugged.

Drug Involvement of Fatally Injured Drivers. (November 2010). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – This brief statistical summary compiles the statistics for fatally injured drivers, whether or not they were tested for drugs, and if so, which drugs, if any, were in their system. The data goes back for five years and was gathered from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Fact Sheet: Working to Get Drugged Drivers Off the Road. (November 2010). Office of National Drug Control Policy – This fact sheet attempts to spread awareness of the seriousness of drugged driving by giving an overview of information about drugged driving.

Drug Per Se Laws: A Review of Their Use in States . (July 2010). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - This study aims to provide a comprehensive list as to the types of per se laws states are using, which are working, and if there have been any problems. The effectiveness of the laws has also been analyzed, determined by number of DUID arrests and convictions.

New Mexico DWI Benchbook [electronic resource]; Criminal Proceedings Involving Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs. (2010). New Mexico Judicial Education Center – The New Mexico DWI Benchbook is intended to serve as a comprehensive resource guide for trial courts in handling criminal proceedings involving DWI and other alcohol-related offenses. It covers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and driving with an alcohol level of .08 or higher (.04 for commercial vehicles), as well as the additional elements that raise the offense to an aggravated level.

The Involvement of Marijuana in California Fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes 1998-2008. Alfred Crancer and Alan Crancer. (June 2010). Druggeddriving.org – California data on drivers involved in passenger vehicle fatal crashes using marijuana were analyzed to determine the impact on traffic safety and to provide information on the possible impact of an initiative, the Tax and Regulate Cannabis Initiative or “TC2010” which is on the California ballot in November 2010 to reform and partially legalize marijuana.

Slipping Through the Cracks: Why Can’t We Stop Drugged Driving? Tina Wescott Cafaro. (May 2010). Western New England University School of Law – Part I of this Article briefly explains the history of impaired driving laws, with respect to both alcohol and drugs. It then sets forth the various frameworks currently in place to establish that an individual is OUI drugs and evaluates the effectiveness of each standard. Part II discusses the impediments to detecting and prosecuting OUI drug cases. Part III recognizes that targeting drugged driving is more complicated than fighting OUI alcohol and suggests what is needed to combat this problem.

Drugged Driving and Prescription Drug Use . (March 2010). Institute for Behavior and Health – This article discusses the dangers of driving under legal use of medical prescriptions. In addition, it looks at data provided by the American Automobile Association (AAA) to address exactly if and to what extent people are aware of the side effects of their prescriptions and whether or not they should drive. Finally, it provides additional recommendations as to how to increase awareness.

Drug-Impaired Driving – Understanding the Problem and Ways to Reduce It . (December 2009). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration - This report to Congress addresses the problem of drugged-driving through an analysis of data collected by the NHTSA. The report then offers some suggests as to how to better prevent drugged driving.

New Study Shows Heavy Use of Marijuana Negatively Impacts Neurocognitive Performance after 29 Day Abstinence . (August 2009) Institute for Behavior and Health - This article discusses a proposed problem that drug tests can be positive even if drug use has stopped for several days, an argument used to thwart drugged driving charges in court. The author provides some insight into the truth of these claims.

Older Adults’ Knowledge about Medications That Can Impact Driving . (August 2009). Foundation for Traffic Safety - This report focuses primarily on the elderly driving impaired due to inadvertent prescription drug abuse. The research and data investigate the awareness of the elderly to the effects of prescription drugs and the steps that should be taken to further educate the elderly.

A State-by-State Analysis of Laws Dealing with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs . J. Michael Walsh. (December 2009). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – This report outlines major trends in state legislation addressing drugged driving and delves into state-specific laws and policies that govern drugged driving.

Maryland's Guidelines for Planning and Implementing Adult DUI/DWI Treatment Court Programs. (2007). Maryland’s Office of Problem-Solving Courts – The Drug Treatment Courts provide a dynamic alternative to addressing drug and drug-related cases. Currently, there is extensive drug treatment court development and expansion in the State of Maryland. This is a guide to help facilitate that process.

Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis (December 2006) Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse - The Canadian Addiction Survey (CAS) was a collaborative initiative sponsored by many Canadian governmental and social organizations. Analysis presented in this and similar reports is intended to supplement the original CAS detailed report. This particular report analyzes the effects of driving under the influence of marijuana.

The Road Safety Monitor: Drugs and Driving (2006) Traffic Injury Research Foundation - This Canadian survey looked at societal attitudes and behaviours about the issue of drugs and driving.

DWI/DUI Courts as of 2006. (2006). National Center for State Courts – This source lists the drug courts in the United States as of 2006 with when they started, their case type, case load, and recidivism rate.

Drugs and Driving . (2004). FriendsDriveSober.org - This page provides an overview of the effects of driving while under the influence of drugs, illicit or prescription. A partial list of drugs that impair driving ability is given.

The Feasibility of Per Se Drugged Driving Legislation Consensus Report. J. Michael Walsh. (2002). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – The objectives of the grant were to review state laws regarding drugged driving, and to convene meetings of experts in a consensus development process to explore how these laws might be made more effective. The goals of this public policy research project were: 1) to evaluate the feasibility of per se drugged driving legislation as a prevention strategy to improve traffic safety (i.e. reduce crashes) and deter illegal drug use by drivers; and 2) to examine how these laws might function as a trigger for court-ordered drug treatment.



(For a copy of any of the articles listed below, please email library@ncsc.org.). Arria, Amelia M., Kimberly M. Caldeira, Kathryn B. Vincent, Laura M. Garnier-Dykstra and Kevin E. O’Grady. “Substance-Related Traffic-Risk Behaviors among College Students.” 118 Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2-3 (November 2011):306-312. – This study attempts to estimate how often individuals are driving drugged or are a passenger in a car being driven by someone under the influence, compare age, sex and race differences concerning drugged driving and riding, examine the relationship between drugs, alcohol and driving, and finally examine the relationship between dependency and drugged/drunk driving.

Voas, Robert B., Robert L. DuPont, Stephen K. Talpins and Corinne L. Shea. “Towards a National Model for Managing Impaired Driving Offenders.” 106 Addiction 7 (July 2011): 1221-1227. – This article aims to identify intervention methods in order to prevent recidivism of impaired drivers. The authors propose that a national model of intervention that focuses on inhibiting an individual from future drinking and drug use through interlock technology on their cars as well as appropriate sanctions for noncompliance.

Lenné, Michael G., Paul M. Dietze, Thomas J. Triggs, Susan Walmsley, Brendan Murphy and Jennifer R. Redman. “The Effects of Cannabis and Alcohol on Simulated Arterial Driving: Influences of Driving Experience and Task Demand.” 42 Accident Analysis & Prevention 3 (May 2010): 859-866. – This study examines a person’s ability to control a car after smoking marijuana and after drinking alcohol. The researchers contrasted low and high doses of both alcohol and marijuana with placebos among experience and inexperienced drivers. In addition, some subjects were under the influence of both marijuana and alcohol. The authors found that high levels of cannabis were impairing, while alcohol at the levels provided was not. In addition, the combination of both drugs did not increase how impaired drivers were.

Matthews, Allison, Raimondo Bruno, Jennifer Johnston, Emma Black, Louisa Degenhardt and Matthew Dunn. “Factors Associated with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs among an Australian Sample of Regular Ecstasy Users.” 100 Drug and Alcohol Dependence 1-2 (February 2009): 24-31. – This article looked at driving under three different drugs: cannabis, ecstasy and methamphetamine. The data showed that the more often an individual engaged in drug use with these three drugs, the more likely they were to have driven under the influence of them. A significant factor associated with drugged driving was the low perception of causing an accident. The findings in this study can be used to more specifically target intervention methods at chronic users and drugged drivers.

Fergusson, David M., L. John Horwood and Joseph M. Boden. “Is Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis Becoming a Greater Risk to Driver Safety than Drink Driving? Findings from a Longitudinal Study.” 40 Accident Analysis & Prevention 4 (July 2008):1345-1350. – This article examines data from a New Zealand longitudinal study about drugged and drunk driving. The authors determine that individuals are significantly more likely to have driven drugged than drunk, and that both driving drugged and driving drunk leads to a greater likelihood of getting into a motor vehicle accident. They also determine that driving drugged has a potentially greater risk of getting into an accident than driving drunk.

Dubois, Sacha, Michel Bédard and Bruce Weaver. “The Impact of Benzodiazepines on Safe Driving.” 9 Traffic Injury Prevention 5 (2008): 404-413. – The authors find that drivers exposed to either intermediate- or long-half-life benzodiazepines had an 11-14 % higher rate of unsafe driving actions, most notably a failure to stay in the proper lane and an increased tendency to drive off the road. Drivers on short-half-life benzodiazepines had similar rates of unsafe driving actions as those that were drug and alcohol free.

Bedard, Michel et al. “The Impact of Cannabis on Driving.” Canadian Journal of Public Health 98.1 (2007) 6-11. – The authors find that, based on a sample of American drivers involved in fatal crashes, the influence of cannabis (in combination with no alcohol influence) was associated with a higher risk of a potentially unsafe driving actions, even after controlling for age, sex, and prior driving records.

Ursino, Brian A. “Halting Impaired Driving.” 73 The Police Chief 7 (July 2006) This article describes several different organizations and their attempts to analyze, intervene and prevent drugged driving.

Silber, B.Y., K. Papafotiou, R.J. Croft, E. Ogden, P. Swann and C. Stough. “The Effects of Dexamphetamine on Simulated Driving Performance.” 179 Psychopharmacology (2005): 536-543. – The authors find that dexamphetamine does decrease simulated driving performance in a day-time driving scenario. Specifically, individuals under the influence of dexamphetamine were less likely to signal when changing lanes or at intersections, and less likely to stop at red lights. These results are consistent with the author’s finding of reduced visual acuity for those under the influence.

Ramaekers, J.G., G. Berghaus, M. van Laar and O.H. Drummer. “Does Related Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes After Cannabis Use.” 73 Drug and Alcohol Dependence (2004): 109-119. – The authors find that the detrimental effects of THC appear more prominent in highly automated driving behavior, such as road tracking control, as compared to complex driving tasks that require conscious control. Drivers involved in crashes who tested positive for THC were found to be about three to seven times more likely to be responsible for their crash as compared to drivers who had not used drugs or alcohol.

Begg, Dorothy J., John D. Langley and Shaun Stephenson. “Identifying Factors that Predict Persistent Driving after Drinking, Unsafe Driving after Drinking, and Driving after Using Cannabis among Young Adults.” 35 Accident Analysis & Prevention 5 (September 2003): 669-675. – The goal of this article was to determine the factors that predicted three different scenarios among young adults: persistent driving after drinking, persistent unsafe driving after drinking and persistent cannabis use and driving. The data from a longitudinal study concluded that different factors lead men and women to engage in these activities, and therefore different intervention programs need to be designed with these characteristics in mind.

Christophersen, A.S, S. Skurtveit, M. Grung and J. Mørland. “Rearrest Rates among Norwegian Drugged Drivers Compared with Drunken Drivers. 66 Drug and Alcohol Dependence 1 (March 2002): 85-92. – The focus of this article is to examine the factors that contribute to rearrest rates for two groups of individuals: arrested drugged drivers and arrested drunk drivers. The data shows that drugged drivers had higher rates of being arrested again. Specifically prior-arrests, being male and being younger than 36 were significant and influential factors in determining rearrest rates.

NCSC Library Resources: These resources are available from the NCSC Library by library@ncsc.org.

Kerrigan, Sarah. Drug Toxicology for Prosecutors: Targeting Hardcore Impaired Drivers. Alexandria, VA: American Prosecutors Research Institute, 2004. (Available in the NCSC Library: KF8925 T7 K47 2004).

Talpins, Stephen K. Drug Evaluation and Classification Program: Targeting Hardcore Impaired Drivers. Alexandria, VA: American Prosecutors Research Institute, 2004. (Available in the NCSC Library: HE5620 D65 T35 2004).

A Judicial Curriculum on Juvenile DWI and Alcohol & Other Drug Use: Saving Lives and Strengthening Communities. United States Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2003. (Available in the NCSC Library: HE5620 D7 J83 2003 V. 1/2/3).