According to a survey that was done by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in the year 2010, more than ten million residents of the United States were under the influence of drugs while driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicated that around 18% of the fatal accidents in the year 2009 were a direct result of drugs. Moreover, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found out that of all the car crash fatalities, 20% of the dead motorists had positive results when tested for drugs.
Having a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of more than 0.08% in a motorist’s body is considered illegal in all of the fifty states. It is pretty easy to measure the BAC in the body of a motorist in case of a traffic stop since alcohol is flushed from the body in a rapid manner. If the readings of the breathalyzer are equal to or more than 0.08 percent, then one risks a guilty verdict and may be convicted of DUI charges. This happens the motorist was stopped and checked procedurally. Take note that this is the case only with alcohol. Other drugs are assessed on a different scale and it can easily be detected if you have used drugs while driving. However, it may be technically difficult to detect some drugs in the bloodstream of a person.
Take the example of marijuana. It takes up to five weeks to detect the psychoactive component of marijuana in a blood sample or urine sample of a person. It is therefore challenging to conclude that a person had visual impairment as a result of using marijuana.
On the other hand, cocaine exits the body after staying there for a day or two. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) admitted to Congress that there is insufficient knowledge about drugs other than alcohol to implicate a motorist for driving under the influence.
There are some jurisdictions however that make use of the Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), who are specially trained officers, to help gather enough evidence so as to convict any motorist. Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) examine the eye movements of motorists very closely, as well as other behaviors that may foretell whether a motorist was driving under the influence.
The presence of drugs in a person’s body is assessed through testing blood samples or performing a urinalysis.