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Impaired Driving Report Sparks MADD Criticism


Last week we featured a blog entry seeking to answer the question, can you be tested for marijuana during a DUI stop? The quick answer to the question is that there's not enough data to provide a solid answer. Every state, including Tennessee, has blood alcohol content limits beyond which impairment is legally presumed. The same can't be said, however, for marijuana. The science isn't well established.

Anyone facing any sort of impaired driving charge faces serious consequences if convicted. Finding elements in any given case that could raise a reasonable doubt about guilt is important in protecting the rights of individuals, which makes consulting a skilled attorney important.

What's worse, drunk or drugged driving?

No one would argue that laws against impaired driving are unnecessary. The number of accidents that occur every year that are attributed to impaired driving and which result in injuries or deaths are evidence enough that such laws are justified. But which is the more serious problem – drunk driving or drugged driving? New data cited in a recent report is sparking an interesting argument among safety advocates.

The report by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the liquor industry-funded Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, says the number of driver fatalities in which drugs were a factor was higher than for alcohol-related deaths in 2015. The report says that's a first and it says marijuana was detected in more than a third of all driver fatalities that year.

As disturbing as many might find this news, it's generating some criticism from one unexpected source – Mothers Against Drunk Driving. As one MADD official puts it, "There is no way you can say drugs have overtaken alcohol as the biggest killer on the highway."

The safety group discounts the report's methodology, citing the fact that no consensus on what amount of a drug such as marijuana needs to be present in the blood to establish impairment. MADD also acknowledges its concern that the report could lead some to think that the fight against drunk driving can end.

The fact that a group whose members include distillers funded the report doesn't sit well with MADD, either.