As drivers in Kentucky already know, laws regarding driving under the effect of alcohol have been on the books for decades. Likewise, the means for testing a motorist are also long established. As more states are legalizing the use of marijuana, and an opiate epidemic has developed in the country, federal regulators are seeking standardized tests for use in the field.
Recent statistics demonstrate an increase in the number of accidents where driving while intoxicated by drugs is a factor. According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA), nearly half of the drivers killed in 2015 were under the influence of a drug at the time. This figure was 30 percent in 2006. The cause for this jump is due to the legalization of marijuana and increased use of opiates.
A driver who is suspected to be driving under the effect of alcohol is administered a standardized field sobriety test to measure his or her coordination in a number of ways. If a person fails the test, he or she is given a breathalyzer to measure his or her blood alcohol content. Tests are normally conducted on the side of the road.
When it comes to testing for the amount of opiates or marijuana in a driver's body, there are no standardized tests. As such, the National Highway Safety Transportation Board (NHSTB) has empowered the NHSTA to seek more standardized testing to detect drivers who are impaired by drugs. The goal is to detect impaired drivers before an accident occurs, thereby saving lives.
Individuals who take prescription painkillers or use marijuana medicinally or otherwise should understand that these drugs can impair their ability to drive the same as alcohol. People should avoid driving when ingesting these substances. People who are arrested for DUI, should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to scrutinize the tests they were given and the arrest procedures that were performed. If not, stiff criminal penalties may result.