Two new studies1 recently released by federal authorities reveal some sobering findings about impaired driving and DUI trends in the U.S.
These studies, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), focused on analyzing crash data and surveying motorists in order to determine:
- How risky it is for motorists to drive drunk (i.e., with BACs of 0.08) versus to drive while stoned (i.e., under the influence of marijuana)
- Whether impaired driving in the U.S. is on the rise
- When impaired drivers are most likely to be on the roads.
The following presents some of the most interesting and significant findings of these studies.
Impaired Motorists’ Crash Risks Revealed
As the largest study of its kind to assess the comparative risks of drunk versus drugged driving, this portion of the study focused on collecting data from more than 9,000 drivers, 3,000 of whom had been involved in car accidents (while data from the remaining 6,000 drivers were used for control/comparative purposes).
According to these findings:
- Drivers with BACs of .08 (i.e., the legal limit throughout the U.S.) are about four times more likely to crash than sober drivers.
- Drivers with BACs of .15 are about 12 times more likely to crash than sober drivers.
- Drivers under the influence of marijuana (i.e., THC) are about 25% more likely to crash than sober drivers.
- Factors like age and gender appear to impact the increased crash risk among those using marijuana.
Roadside Survey Findings: Motorists’ Use of Alcohol and Drugs
This aspect of the study focused on determining when motorists are the most likely to be impaired. Conducted from 2013 through 2014, this study – the fifth of its kind conducted since 1973 – found that:
- While only about 1.5% of drivers had BACs of .08 or higher at night over the weekends, approximately 8.3% of drivers had a measurable amount of alcohol in their systems.
- Since 1973, the proportion of drivers with BACs of at least .08 BAC has decreased by about 80%. In other words, the incidence of drunk driving seems to have dramatically dropped over the four decades or so.
- From 2013 to 2014, 15% of drivers who were tested for illegal drugs (via saliva or blood testing) were found to be impaired (i.e., have illegal drugs in their systems).
- Nearly 7.5% of drivers were found to have a prescription and over-the-counter medications in their systems. It’s important to note that it can be illegal to drive under the influence of legal drugs if those narcotics impair motorists’ abilities to safely operate a vehicle.
- Since 2007, about 47% more drivers have tested positive for marijuana.
One possible explanation for the significant increases in the number of motorists impaired by marijuana may be the legalization of pot in some states, including Colorado, over recent years.
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Facing DUI Charges in Colorado? Contact a Colorado Springs DUI Lawyer at Kohn Law Firm
If you have been accused of drunk or stoned driving in Colorado, contact a Colorado Springs DUI lawyer at Kohn Law Firm to find out more about your best defense options – and to secure aggressive legal advocacy moving forward.
You can contact us by calling (719) 328-9555 or by emailing us using the contact form at the top of this page. From our offices in Colorado Springs, we provide exceptional defense representation to clients throughout the Pikes Peak region and Colorado.
1: Conducted by authorities at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA)