For decades, law enforcement officers have used proven methods for verifying suspicion of drunk driving by asking the suspect to perform three tasks including using their eyes to follow the officer’s finger moving back and forth, taking steps outside of the vehicle and standing on the leg for a one-half minute. Prosecutors and personal injury attorneys representing victims have used the result of a standard field sobriety test to prove how the motorist was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.
Unfortunately, medical science has yet to create a device to detect all incidents of driving while under the influence of drugs. The law enforcement officer may be able to identify an alcohol-impaired driver who stumbles on one foot when taking a field sobriety test, but a driver under the influence of drugs might be able to maintain their balance indefinitely during the same test. In recent years, many more states have begun legalizing recreational, medical marijuana, which makes it more important than ever to understand how driving under the influence of drugs can negatively affect driver behavior.
In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a survey and found that the number of motorists driving under the influence of marijuana group approximately 50% during the previous seven years. This number grew sharply from 8.6% in 2007 to more than 12% in 2014. Even though the NHTSA said that drug-impaired driving was increasing, alcohol-related crashes had declined by approximately one-third during the same time. NHTSA spokesperson Mark Rosekind stated that “the rising prevalence of marijuana and other drugs is a challenge to everyone who is dedicated to waiving lives and reducing crashes.” The report revealed that “evidence that marijuana use impairs psychomotor skills, divided attention, lane tracking, and cognitive functions,” every skill essential for safe driving.