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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Drunk Drivers and Drugged Drivers

Typically when one thinks of driving under the influence they think of drunk driving, which is not all that surprising considering that anti-DUI advertising is geared towards alcohol with slogans like "friends don't let friends drive drunk". The fact of the matter is that there are more people receiving DUI charges for driving under the influence of drugs than you might think. A new study conducted in British Columbia has shown from a random sampling of night time drivers that there are about an equal number of drugged drivers as there are drunk drivers. "The survey found that 7.7 per cent of drivers tested positive for drugs and 9.9 per cent had been drinking," according to the study released Monday by the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse (CCSA).

Marijuana and cocaine were the two most common substances found while conducting a survey of 2,840 vehicles last year in Vancouver, Saanich, Abbotsford, Prince George and Kelowna. According to a second survey released Monday, Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse researchers reviewed the facts of 14,000 driver fatalities, they found that 37 percent had alcohol in their system and 33 percent tested positive for drugs. It is fair to assume that a number of the drugs that people tested positive for in their autopsies were prescription narcotics.

Preventing drugged driving is far more complex than deterring drunk driving considering what is needed to prove that someone is impaired by drugs. After a field sobriety test is conducted where by an officer believes a suspect to be impaired by drugs, the driver must accompany the officer to the police station to be examined by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). Over 100 pieces of information are ascertained by the DRE, so that a call can be made about whether a suspect is impaired by drugs. There are 600 officers who are qualified to detect impairment by drugs in Canada.

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