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Drugged driving arrests rise in Tennessee

After your recent DUI arrest, you may not have been surprised to learn that toxicology results indicated, in addition to alcohol, the presence of opioids in your system. Tennessee police and law enforcement agencies across the country are dealing with a staggering increase in opioid arrests, including DUIs. In fact, data analyzed from recent years shows the trend is alarming.

In the past five years, drugged driving accidents resulting in fatalities have risen 89 percent. Tennessee police have noted a 26 percent increase in driving under the influence of drugs, while strictly alcohol-related DUI incidents have decreased. Law enforcement agents say the increase is likely due to improved policing as well as higher rates of opioid addiction.

Addiction at the heart of the issue

In past years, if a toxicology report revealed the presence of a controlled substance in addition to alcohol, it was typically marijuana. You may have had experiences where a party or night out involved drinking and smoking. Currently, marijuana is illegal in Tennessee, even medicinally, so you likely understood the risk you were taking if police pulled you over for DUI.

Perhaps the biggest difference between a driver using alcohol and marijuana, and a driver using alcohol and methamphetamines or opioids is that if you are using the harder drugs, you may be more likely to need help for an addiction. Instead, you may be facing harsh penalties, including decades behind bars.

The consequences you face

Tennessee laws concerning drugged driving are strict. However, law enforcement seems to be in the process of figuring out how to deal with drugged drivers. In fact, you may be interested to know that there is no state or national level for impairment by drugs as there is for alcohol, which is .08 percent nationwide. Additionally, tests for drugs in the bloodstream are inexact and often take months before results are available. Those months may be precious to you if you are struggling with an addiction.

Police officers continue to receive training to identify the signs of a driver who is impaired by drugs. If they arrest you for DUI with drugs, those officers will then testify against you in court. You may be painfully aware of the tragic consequences of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, including the potential for taking another life.

While Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other safety advocates lobby for tougher sentences and more uniform laws, you may agree that the numbers will continue to rise until someone finds a resolution to issue of addiction.

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