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Drunk driving, drugged driving trending in opposite directions

A new study indicates that drunk driving and drugged driving are headed in opposite directions. The research by the Governors Highway Safety Association indicates that more drivers were high on drugs in 2016 than were driving under the influence of alcohol.

The GHSA study says that over the past decade or so, drunk driving has been decreasing while driving under the influence of drugs (marijuana, opioids, prescription medications and other substances) has been increasing. In fact, researchers say drugged driving increased by 16 percentage points from 2006 through 2016; a period in which drunk driving saw a small decrease, dropping by 3 percentage points.

Approximately 44 percent of drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2016 had drugs in their systems. A decade earlier, that figure was just 28 percent.

The most popular drug among those that tested positive was marijuana, with 38 percent indicated in post-mortem testing. About 16 percent tested positive for opioids (heroin, fentanyl, etc.) and approximately 4 percent were positive for both.

GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said, "Too many people operate under the false belief that marijuana or opioids don't impair their ability to drive, or even that these drugs make them safer drivers."

It should be noted that traces of marijuana can show up in a person's system days and weeks after use, so it is not clear from the GHSA study that those who tested positive for weed were actually high on it at the time of the crash.

Those who face the harsh potential penalties of drunk driving or drugged driving in Pennsylvania should speak with a criminal defense attorney before talking to a prosecutor. A defense lawyer helps protect your freedom, rights and driving privileges.

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