Study: More CA drivers tested positive for drugs than alcohol

By Arturo Garcia
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 12:38 EDT
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A study by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) found that twice as many people involved in late-night traffic stops were found to be driving on drugs, as opposed to drunk.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the study of 1,300 stops in nine California cities, released Monday, showed 14 percent of drivers were under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs at the time, compared to 7.3 percent found to be driving drunk.

Each of the drivers involved was stopped between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday night and voluntarily gave authorities in the nine cities — Anaheim, Chula Vista, Eureka, Fresno, Gardena, Modesto, Ontario, Redding and San Rafael — breath and/or saliva samples, KABC-TV reported.

Medications were involved in 4.6 percent of the drug-related stops, according to KFMB-TV.

“If you’re a little wobbly or things of that nature without even drinking, it’s very important to take notice and just to be careful with that,” said a local pharmacist, Arin Arakeoian.

A separate study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association found that 30 percent of drivers killed in accidents two years ago tested positive for drugs.

“These results reinforce our belief that driving after consuming potentially impairing drugs is a serious and growing problem,” said OTS director Christopher J. Murphy in a statement.

For its part, the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana, suggested the study should not be used as justification for more stringent drug policies.

“No one should drive under the impairment of anything,” the group’s deputy director of programs, Stephen Gutwillig, told KABC. “I’m just saying that the risks associated with marijuana and driving are substantially lower than the risks associated with alcohol and with some prescription drugs.”

KFMB’s report on the study, aired on Monday, can be seen below.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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