The risks, both of going to jail and of being injured, associated with drinking and driving should be well known to everyone in the United States by now thanks to efforts by both public and private organizations and agencies over the last several decades. Recent statistics show that those efforts are paying off as the number of people injured, killed, and even jailed as a result of drunk driving has steadily declined over that same time period. Now, however, experts are pointing to another risk to motorists and others who share the nation’s roadways – drugged driving.
According to a recently released report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined an amazing one-third in just the last seven years (since 2007). While that is certainly great news, the same report indicates that the number of motorists on the nation’s roadways who are operating a vehicle with illegal drugs in their system has increased significantly during the same time frame.
The NTSA first began conducting roadside surveys back in 1973. Since that time, the number of drivers who tested positive for alcohol in their system has declined by more than three-quarters. Those same surveys conducted during 2013 and 2014 though show that 22 percent of drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect safety, including both “street drugs”, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter-medications.
The NHTSA surveys are conducted anonymously during the nighttime hours at various testing spots across the country. During the most recent surveys, about eight percent of drivers during weekend nighttime hours were found to have some alcohol in their system, and 1.5 percent were found with 0.08 percent or higher breath alcohol content – the legal limit in every state. Drivers with any alcohol in their systems and drivers testing greater than 0.08 were both down by about 30 percent from the previous survey in 2007. The same surveys, however, showed that the number of drivers with marijuana in their systems grew by nearly 50 percent over the same period of time, 8.6 percent in 2007 to 12.6 percent in 2014. While those results may reflect the growing number of states in which medical or even recreation use of marijuana is legal, driving a vehicle while being “under the influence” of any drug remains a criminal offense in most states, including Nebraska.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Nebraska, contact the Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney.
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