The methods for testing whether a driver is impaired by alcohol have changed little over the last few decades other than through improvements in technology. Researchers have studied the ways the typical person's body reacts to alcohol and applied that knowledge to the development of tests to determine how much alcohol is safe to consume before driving. The fact is that it takes very little alcohol to impair your ability to drive safely.
More urgently, safety advocates and law enforcement are dealing with a sharp increase in drugged driving. In fact, data from 2017 show that nearly half of drivers who die in accidents test positive for some kind of drug. Nonetheless, if you face charges of driving under the influence of drugs, the evidence against you may be unreliable.
Common drugs used by impaired drivers
The Governor's Highway Safety Administration reports that drugs have ousted alcohol as the leading cause of death in traffic accidents. Many drivers whose blood alcohol concentration is over the legal limit also test positive for drugs, most commonly, one or more of these:
The recent legalization of medical marijuana and the decriminalization of recreational marijuana in some states may be a contributing factor in the rise of drug-related accidents. If you use marijuana, either medicinally or recreationally, you must realize it is still illegal to drive while under the drug's influence. Roadside devices that detect the presence of marijuana in your system are still in the testing stage, and there is no guarantee the results of such a test are reliable.
Facing charges after an accident
Because there are so many drugs and combinations of drugs available, the GHSA admits it is nearly impossible to know how any one person may react to any substance. Unlike alcohol, where a .08 BAC is commonly accepted as per se impairment, the same dose of a prescription or illegal substance may metabolize differently in different people or even in the same person at different times.
Routine post-accident testing for employees of the Department of Transportation recently added four common opioids. Testing positive for these or other drugs following an accident may have serious ramifications, whether you are a DOT employee, a CDL trucker or anyone who relies on a driver's license for employment. Additionally, you may face penalty enhancements even if you take the drug as part of a doctor-supervised pain management plan.
At any time when your rights and liberties are at risk, you would benefit from the counsel of a Tennessee legal professional who can help you determine the most prudent and effective course of action to protect your future.