On a recent weekend, CHP officers set up roadside checkpoints in a handful of cities between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Drivers were asked to voluntarily submit a breath or saliva sample for testing. The samples were then tested for the presence of impairing drugs, legal and illegal, and for the presence of alcohol.
What was the outcome? Out of 1,300 samples taken, about twice as many drivers were under the influence of a drug that could impair driving. About 14 percent tested positive for a drug in their system. Compare that with alcohol, which was found in only 7.3 percent of drivers.
Marijuana alone beat alcohol by 0.1 percent, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Of course, one has to question the methodology a bit here. These samples were all given voluntarily. That means many drivers with alcohol or drugs in their system, possibly fearing arrest, could have refused to provide a sample. The true numbers of impaired drivers could be even higher.
The same logic should make you question the ratio of drugs to alcohol as well. Everyone knows that driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal. It should be more surprising that any drivers with alcohol in their system volunteered. On the other hand, many drivers are unaware that prescription drugs could suffice for a DUI, or that the remnants of many drugs, marijuana included, stay in the system for days or even weeks. Alcohol disappears within a few hours.
Still, the results do point toward a possible increase in drugged drivers. In California, a person can be charged with DUI based on alcohol, drugs, or both, as long as the presence of the drugs impairs the driver's ability to operate a vehicle safely. It does not matter if the drugs are legal or illegal, pills or puffed, solid or liquid.
- Consult a Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney (FindLaw)
- Is it Actually Illegal to Smoke Marijuana While Driving in California? (FindLaw's Los Angeles DUI Blog)
- So I Refused to Take a Blood or Breath Test; Can They Force Me? (FindLaw's Los Angeles DUI Blog)
- Does Weed Affect Driving Ability? Stoned Study Measures Impairment (FindLaw's Los Angeles DUI Blog)