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Drugged driving and the limitations of drug testing

Though alcohol-impaired driving saw a slight decline between 2006 and 2016, that same time period has seen a 16 percent increase in fatally injured drugged drivers. This is according to a new report that Iowa residents should know more about. The study, which was conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association, found that 44 percent of fatally injured drivers in 2016 tested positive for drugs. About 51 percent of those drivers had two or more drugs in their system.

Marijuana and opioids, or a combination of the two, were the most common drugs. Approximately 49 percent of drugged drivers who died in crashes also tested positive for alcohol. However, the presence of drugs does not imply impairment; the GHSA states that drugs have different effects on different people. It also acknowledges that a lack of national drug testing standards as well as the sheer number of drugs that drivers can be tested for prevent the results from being totally accurate.

Marijuana studies are similarly flawed because of how hard it is to estimate a driver’s THC level at the time of a crash. The current estimate is that drivers smoking marijuana are 25 to 35 percent more likely to be in a crash. To help officers detect signs of impaired driving, the GHSA and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility have set up training programs.

Victims of another person’s drugged driving are eligible for compensation under auto accident law. If they were partially at fault, the potential amount of their settlement will be lower, but the claim will still stand. To build up that claim, victims may wish to hire a lawyer, who in turn might hire accident investigators, drug experts and other third parties to gather proof. The lawyer bring it to the negotiation table with the auto insurance company, litigating if an agreement cannot be made.

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