It seems that drunk driving is a problem for any place with alcohol and roads, which means most of America. After years of a concerted effort by local, state, and even federal law enforcement agencies, community groups, educational organizations and ad agencies, drunk driving is currently on the decline in Michigan. As a result, drunk driving deaths are also on the decline. However, there is a new epidemic rearing its head on Michigan roads: drugged driving.
As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the Michigan State Police calculated that in 2016 drugged drivers caused 127 crashes that killed 141 people. That may be less than the 165 drunk driving crashes that killed 176 people last year, but drugged driving crashes and deaths appear to be on the rise while the drunk driving statistics show a downward trend. Specifically, drunk driving deaths have gone down 36% over the last 10 years while drugged driving deaths have risen 263% over that same time. Police also don't test for drugs if a suspect has been determined to be drunk, so the number of impaired drivers on drugs may even be higher. That said, it is still too many of both drunk and drugged driving crashes and deaths.
This blog has previously focused on drugged driving and the efforts that Michigan lawmakers and law enforcement are taking curb its rise, which includes roadside drug testing. We also pointed out the problems related to roadside drug testing, namely the reliability (or unreliability) of the results. However, we did not discuss the reasons for the rise in drugged driving as a whole. Police estimate that it is directly related to the opioid drug epidemic, new and powerful prescription drugs with dangerous side effects, and the easy access to marijuana. Public awareness is on the rise as high profile cases like the arrest of Tiger Woods make the news, but people do not yet equate the dangers of drugged driving with those of drunk driving. This is especially true when a doctor has prescribed the drugs causing impaired driving. Some see fault in the medical community for not conveying the danger that even legally prescribed drugs can cause.
It is vital that people drive safely on Michigan roads. Please know the side effects to your prescription drugs and seek help if you're having a problem with any drugs, legal or illegal. And always have a designated driver. If you or a loved one is ever in trouble for drunk or drugged driving, please contact us at the Law Office of John Freeman, PLLC. We can help.