Driving under the influence of drugs has increased across the nation, and drivers in California are no exception. As The Atlantic reports, drivers who die behind the wheel are more likely to have drugs in their system than ever before. In fact, 43 percent of drivers in a fatal crash have either prescription or illegal drugs in their systems, and 37 percent test positive for alcohol, according to recent data. This is a reverse from 2005, where the drivers who died with alcohol in their systems was 41 percent and drugs were at 28 percent.
Although this rise in drug use while driving cannot be directly tied to the opioid crisis, prescription drug use is on the rise. Twenty percent of drivers surveyed had used a prescription drug, most often antidepressants, painkillers or sedatives, within the past two days. Marijuana use is also on the rise for drivers, and it was the most common drug found in a driver’s system. More than a third of the drugs a driver was found to be using was a form of marijuana, and amphetamines were the next largest category after that, at just over 9 percent.
As more Americans are using prescription drugs, law enforcement urges people to look at the warnings on their medications. Just because a driver is taking a prescription from their doctor does not automatically mean it is safe to drive while using. In fact, professional golfer and former world champion golfer, Tiger Woods, was recently arrested for exactly that. According to Reuters, Woods was arrested on the suspicion of a DUI near his home in Florida. He released a statement blaming the “unexpected reaction to prescribed medications” for the incident.