New Study Shows Decrease in DUI But Increase In Drugged Driving

Posted on October 30, 2017 in Uncategorized

The number of drunk drivers on the roads has fallen sharply during the past 30 years amid tougher laws, stiffer enforcement and a shift in societal views on alcohol, a government survey found Monday.

A roadside survey released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 2.2 percent of drivers had blood-alcohol levels of 0.08 or higher in 2007. The results represented a steady decline compared with studies conducted since 1973, when 7.5 percent of the drivers surveyed were legally intoxicated.

A separate government survey found for the first time that 16.3 percent of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for drugs. The most commonly detected drugs were marijuana (8.3 percent), cocaine (3.9 percent) and methamphetamine (1.3 percent). Researchers said the presence of drugs can remain in a driver's system for weeks, making it difficult to know whether those drivers were impaired.

"This troubling data shows us, for the first time, the scope of drugged driving in America and reinforces the need to reduce drug abuse," said Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The survey examined weekend nighttime drivers, collecting breath samples to measure blood alcohol concentration. For the first time, it also collected oral fluid and blood samples to determine a driver's use of potentially impairing drugs.

Government researchers last conducted the study in 1996, when 4.3 percent of drivers surveyed were legally intoxicated. Previously, in 1986, 5.4 percent of the respondents were legally drunk.

The changes have coincided with more stringent efforts by law enforcement and advocacy groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving to reduce drunken driving and the use of breath-monitoring ignition interlock devices for offenders. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 as the legal limit for drivers.

The study found a higher risk of encountering drunken drivers in the early morning hours — 4.8 percent of drivers had an illegal blood alcohol level from the hours of 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturday. It found that 1.2 percent of drivers were legally drunk during the hours of 10 p.m. to midnight on Friday night, 1.2 percent of those surveyed were legally drunk while 0.2 percent were drunk during the daytime.

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