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More drivers testing positive for pot use

Ohio readers may be interested to learn that the number of drivers who tested positive for pot use jumped 50 percent over a seven-year period, according to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Meanwhile, the number of drivers who tested positive for alcohol consumption dropped sharply over a 40-year period. The information was presented at the annual meeting of the Research Society of Alcoholism in June.

Using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Roadside Studies project, AAA found that over 22 percent of daylight drivers tested positive for drugs between 2013 and 2014. Meanwhile, nearly 23 percent of nighttime drivers tested positive for drugs. Pot was the most common drug used by drivers, with nearly 9 percent of day drivers and 13 percent of night drivers testing positive for THC, which is the chemical in marijuana that makes people high. The study also discovered that the number of drivers with alcohol in their systems dropped 77 percent between the years of 1973 and 2014.

AAA also looked at data from NHTSA's Crash Risk Study, which compared the driving risks of pot-impaired drivers with those of alcohol-impaired drivers. The organization found that drivers who consume alcohol display different risky behaviors than drivers who consume pot, but it said both types of drivers are dangerous.

Ohio drivers convicted of drunk driving face severe consequences, including imprisonment, fines and the suspension of their driver's license. However, a defendant may be able to avoid such penalties with the help of a criminal defense attorney. For example, it may be possible to get charges dismissed by disputing the accuracy of breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. In other circumstances, the charges could be reduced if the defendant agrees to a plea deal.

Source: Claims Journal, "Pot-Positive Drivers Rise as Alcohol-Positive Drivers Decline," July 14, 2017

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