Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs continues to be one of the major causes of traffic safety injuries and deaths, not only in Texas, but across the nation. Impaired driving crashes have consistently claimed more than 10,000 lives per year (NHTSA Fact Sheet, 2016). For many years, the vast majority of those cases involved alcohol intoxication. For those reasons, most criminal justice professionals have become very familiar with issues that arise during the arrest, investigation, prosecution, and disposition of alcohol impaired driving cases.
However, more and more states have begun to legalize marijuana for medical or personal use, prescription drug use has increased significantly, and other illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl have become increasingly more available. As a result, the number of drivers impaired with marijuana, prescription drugs, or polysubstance impairment has increased significantly. For that reason, it is time that we begin to educate ourselves about the unique challenges that drug impaired driving cases present to criminal justice professionals.
The purpose of this quarterly newsletter is to highlight drug impaired driving research, state and national trends, and any recent significant legislation and case law. The newsletter is produced and distributed by the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education, a division of the Texas Transportation Institute, Texas A&M University, and is funded through a generous grant from the Texas Department of Transportation.