As a resident of California, I took personal interest in a recent bill introduced to the legislature that would create a drugged driving task force and the use of oral swabs to help identify drivers under the influence of drugs. Californians, after all, approved the use of recreational marijuana in last November’s elections.
This bill follows a recent study showing that drugged driving deaths have now passed drunk driving deaths, with a whopping 43% of fatalities in 2015 showing the use of a legal or illegal drug. This all makes me wonder just how lawmakers, law enforcement, and the courts are going to handle field sobriety tests in the future.
After all, the cheek swab test used to test for cannabis cannot test for alcohol and many other drugs. And we’ve written on this blog many times about the dangers of and rise in the use of opioids. With all these “choices”, it appears that officers may need to administer multiple tests (alcohol, opioids, cannabis, etc.) to identify potential influences affecting a driver.
While it would be nice to think that drivers would act responsibly, history shows us this is not the case. In Colorado, for example, CDOT conducted a study that revealed that 55% of marijuana users believed it was safe to drive under the influence of marijuana. And the number of fatalities with active THC has increased 250% from 2013 – 2015. While I know that this doesn’t necessarily prove causation, to me at least, it certainly provides reasons for concern.