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My name is Steve Young and I am a retired California Highway Patrol Officer. I will also be your instructor in one of the online traffic courses with B Line Traffic Schools. No matter what course you sign up for, my goals are the same: Present you with the information that you need in a way that will not put you to sleep and then get you back to your life.  Throughout some of the courses I have included interesting situations, people and other random things I have come across in my 25+ years with the CHP to break things up a bit. Ok ok, enough about me. Close this window and start your course with B Line Traffic Schools today.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs on the Rise in California

26 Mar Blog | Comments

If traffic fatalities are any indication, drug use is on the rise in California. Three out of 10 fatal traffic accidents that occur in the state involve illegal drug use. Even though drunk driving fatalities have lowered, drugged driving appears to be increasing each year.

State officials recognize a definite problem when 30 percent of all automobile accidents that involved fatalities in 2010 tested positive for drug use. With such startling statistics, state officials have ordered an increase in law enforcement officers, research and specialized training to address the problem.

The California Office of Traffic Safety has secured additional funds for detailed training programs to help teach law enforcement officers the often subtle signs and symptoms of the different types of drug use they may encounter in the field. To help crack down on drugged drivers, more than 700 officers have attended training sessions to learn how to spot drugged motor vehicle operators during a traffic stop. Currently, law enforcement officers perform drug evaluations almost daily on motorists who have been pulled over.

The rise in drugged driving has been a phenomenon that has been escalating every year since 2006. Because of the startling increase that has been noted, more officers are becoming ‘Drug Recognition Experts’ to try to quell the surge in drugged drivers. Currently California has over a thousand active DRE trained officers who are trained to recognize even the most subtle signs of drug use. The drugs they are trained to detect include both legal and illegal types.

Driving under the influence of over-the-counter and prescription drugs can prove just as deadly as street drugs. Some prescription or over-the-counter medications advice users against operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. To complicate problems, people often mix alcohol with prescription drugs, which can prove a deadly combination.

Some people using prescription or over-the-counter medications are shocked to learn that they are under arrest for being under the influence. Despite having a prescription from a physician, driving while under the influence of drugs is illegal.

Unlike alcohol, law enforcement officers cannot do a drug test during a traffic stop. The officer must rely on his training and instincts to determine if the driver is under the influence of drugs. Drug use and driving becomes a shady area. With alcohol use, a driver is deemed intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of .08. Currently, there are no tests to detect many prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Determining what constitutes drugged driving is difficult for officers because there is no chart that determines the impairment level for drugs. Officers must go on their instincts and training to make a determination. If a driver shows any signs of impairment they can be arrested under California law.

California law enforcement officers are also seeing a rise in unusual drug use. Common bath salts and a synthetic marijuana substitute known as, ‘splice,’ are becoming popular recreational drugs. Splice is especially dangerous because it mimics the symptoms of both marijuana and methamphetamines. With such a wide array of drugs, officers have to remain ever vigilant to detect drug use in drivers. The ever-changing popularity of certain drugs also makes it even more critical that law enforcement officers remain current on the hype street drugs through intensive and frequent training.

Statistics clearly show that drugs are just as deadly as alcohol. An automobile accident often takes the lives of not only the drug user but also innocent motorists or pedestrians. In January of 2012, near Buellton, California a fatal crash occurred on Highway 101 that involved a truck. The accident also almost killed a mother and two small children. The driver tested positive for driving under the influence of methamphetamines.

Drivers should always be aware that driving while using drugs can prove to be a deadly mistake. The rise in drugged driving in the state of California has brought a nationwide awareness to the deadly consequences. With frequent training courses for law enforcement officers, state officials remain dedicated to controlling the ever-increasing problem.


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