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.

Marijuana-Impaired Driving: A Report to CongressNHTSA (July 2017). The report describes the absorption, distribution and elimination of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinal (THC) the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana, in the body. It contrasts this process with the absorption, distribution and elimination of alcohol in the body, as they are very different processes. The poor correlation of THC concentrations in the blood with impairment is discussed, along with the implication that setting per se levels is not meaningful. Some of the challenges of measuring driving impairment resulting from marijuana use are reviewed. State laws relating to marijuana and driving are presented. What is known about the prevalence of marijuana-impaired driving and the crash risk associated with marijuana-impaired driving is reviewed.

Drug Impaired Driving: A Guide for StatesGovernors Highway Safety Administration (April 2017). This guide summarizes the most current research and laws surrounding marijuana, other drugs, and drugged driving. The guide gives background on the chemistry of drugs, talks about the prosecution process, and gives recommendations for education and research programs.

State Laws By Issue: Drug Impaired DrivingGovernors Highway Safety Administration (March 2017). This website gives an overview of the drug impaired driving laws in each state, including statistics on how many states have zero tolerance laws and per se laws.

Cannabis and Road Safety: Policy Challenges, TIRF (October 2016). This study collected information regarding standing drugged driving policy and analyzed areas in which drugged driving policy needs to progress.

NIDA DrugFacts: Drugged DrivingNational Institute on Drug Abuse (June 2016). This site answers common questions about what drugged driving is, how often it happens and the dangers of driving drugged.

Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheet, NHTSA (Revised April 2014). 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.

The Dangers of Drugged DrivingElements Behavioral Health (March 2011). 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, NHTSA (March 2011). 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.

Know Your Limit: How legislatures have gone overboard with per se drunk driving laws and how men pay the price, 16 William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 423 (2010). Per se statues may have many positive effects, but in light of the scientific evidence indicating that women are generally more impaired than men at the same BAC, they also create the potential for discrimination against men. Per se statutes make actual impairment irrelevant with regard to criminal liability. As a result, men, as compared to women, may be paying a steep price.

Drug Involvement of Fatally Injured Drivers, NHTSA (November 2010). 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.

Drug Per Se Laws: A Review of Their Use in States, NHTSA (July 2010). 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.

The Effects of Cannabis and Alcohol on Simulated Arterial Driving, 42 Accident Analysis & Prevention 3 (May 2010). 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.

Slipping Through the Cracks: Why Can’t We Stop Drugged Driving?, Western New England University School of Law (May 2010). 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.

A State-by-State Analysis of Laws Dealing with Driving Under the Influence of DrugsNHTSA (December 2009). This report outlines major trends in state legislation addressing drugged driving and delves into state-specific laws and policies that govern drugged driving.

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). 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.

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). 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.

Maryland's Guidelines for Planning and Implementing Adult DUI/DWI Treatment Court ProgramsMaryland’s Office of Problem-Solving Courts (2007). 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.

DWI and Drugs: A Look at Per Se Laws for Marijuana, 7 Nevada Law Journal 570 (2007). This article examines per se DUID laws in the context of a case regarding marijuana use in Nevada. The article analyzes constitutional problems with per se DUID statutes, strategies employed by other states, and presents a policy argument based on the prohibition against character evidence.

Legal Framework for Dealing with Drugs in TrafficTransportation Research Circular: Drugs and Traffic (2006). This text will give a broad overview of the different types of legislation that exist and which approaches different countries implement.

Driving Under the Influence of CannabisCanadian Centre on Substance Abuse (December 2006). 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 Feasibility of Per Se Drugged Driving Legislation Consensus Report, NHTSA (2002). 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.

 

Articles:

(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.

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).