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Drugged Driving Trend Increases Nationwide

When we think of DUI we tend to associate it only with drunk driving. It is true that most impaired drivers choose to be under the influence of alcohol, but it is important to remember that drugs are just as dangerous for drivers as alcohol, and DUI penalties for drugged driving are just as stiff.

A new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that the number of DUI incidents involving marijuana have risen steadily for the last five years. Not only that, but the NHTSA has also seen an increase in the amount of traffic fatalities linked with marijuana.

The two states with the highest rates of car-accident fatalities related to marijuana are Montana and Alaska. However, the trend is rising nationwide. Some analysts put the national rates at about 4 percent.

It is also important to remember that DUI involving illegal drugs carries an additional penalty. A driver who is charged with a DUI involving marijuana or cocaine, for instance, will certainly also be charged with drug possession. This can mean increased or mandatory jail sentences, as well as other serious punishments.

It can be rather difficult for law enforcement to adequately track just how impaired a drugged driver is. With alcohol police have the convenience of breathalyzers and field sobriety tests to quickly determine if a driver is impaired.

A blood test is usually needed to prove use and impairment. However, drugs stay in our bodies long after the effects have worn off. Therefore tests for marijuana may come back positive even if the driver was not high at the time of arrest.

Driving under the influence is not just limited to alcohol. The dangers of drugged driving are just as serious as drunk driving, but drugged drivers face greater legal risks. Those who choose to drive high or drugged need to be aware of the consequences, and they will certainly need good legal representation.

Source: Missoulian.com, "Driving under the influence of marijuana a growing problem," Gwen Florio, 16 January 2011

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