Per Se Drugged Driving Laws

All states have drunk driving laws but cases involving drug impaired driving are more problematic.  According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, only 19 states have strict per se laws that prohibit the presence of any amount of a prohibited substance while driving. “Drug Impaired Driving Laws: Per Se Laws for Drugs by State,” Governors Highway Safety Association, (May 2014). This webpage gives a chart of per se drug laws by state.

Lacey, John, Katharine Brainard and Samantha Snitow. “Drug Per Se Laws:  A Review of Their Use in the States,” NHTSA, (July 2010). Drug per se laws are more analogous to zero-tolerance laws that make it illegal to drive with certain drugs in the system.  Currently, there are 15 States where it is illegal per se to operate a motor vehicle with certain drugs in one’s system.

Cafaro, Tina W. “Slipping through the Cracks: Why can’t we stop drugged driving?Western New England Law Review 32, 1 (2010). This article briefly explains the history of impaired driving laws and then sets forth the various frameworks currently in place to establish than an individual is OUI drugs and evaluates the effectiveness of each standard.

Know Your Limit: How legislatures have gone overboard with per se drunk driving laws and how men pay the price,” William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law 16, (2010): 423. 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.

Cordova, Charles R. "DWI and Drugs: A Look at Per Se Laws for Marijuana," Nevada Law Journal 7, (2007): 570. 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.

Verstraete, Alain G. and J. Michael Walsh. “Legal Framework for Dealing with Drugs in Traffic,” Transportation 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.

Jones, R.K. and C. Rodriguez-Iglesias. “Evaluation of Lower BAC Limits for Convicted OUI Offenders In Maine,” NHTSA, (2004). This is the final report of a project evaluating the effectiveness of lower BAC limit for drivers convicted of operating under the influence of intoxicants (OUI) in Maine. The study found the law had little or no burdensome effect on OUI enforcement processes or resource requirements, but contributed to a reduction of convicted OUI offenders in fatal crashes in general, and in alcohol-related fatal crashes in particular.

Enhanced Sanctions for Higher BACs: Evaluation of Minnesota's High - BAC Law,” NHTSA, (2003). High-BAC sanctioning systems are based on evidence that DWI offenders with higher BACs are more likely (than DWI offenders with lower BACs) to be involved in a crash and more likely to recidivate. The objective of such systems is to reduce recidivism among this high-risk group of offenders by increasing the certainty and severity of punishment.