Drugged Driving Becoming More Prevalent Than Drunk Driving

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month to Focus on Growing Epidemic

drunk driving drugged drivingDecember is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month and also the time of year for holiday parties, family gatherings and travel. During this time, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers wants to provide a reminder of the risks associated with driving under the influence of alcohol as well as drugs – not just illicit drugs, but prescription and over the counter medications too.

Unfortunately, many people have the misconception that driving under the influence of alcohol is worse than driving while impaired by substances such as marijuana or prescription medication.

“There has been a reduction in drinking and driving due to decades of concerted efforts between local, state and federal governments, safety advocates and law enforcement,” said Gateway President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Britton. “During National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, Gateway wants to continue to highlight drunk driving issues, while also exercising the same vigilance towards the issue of drugged driving.”

As the overall number of drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States declines, the percentage of drugged drivers involved in these accidents increases. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey, more than 22 percent of drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

The spike in the percentage of drugged drivers is concerning, and in recent years, safety advocates and political figures, including the President of the United States, have done their part to emphasize this topic.

In his 2014 National Impaired Driving Prevention Month Presidential Proclamation, President Barack Obama stated that his administration is working to keep drugged drivers off the road and help bolster law enforcement officials’ ability to identify drug-impaired drivers.

“One of the first steps to overcoming this drugged driving epidemic is to educate the public about substance abuse and treatment options,” said Britton. “Efforts like National Impaired Driving Prevention Month help bring these issues to the forefront and provide Gateway with an opportunity to educate.”

Learn more about the effects of drug abuse and addiction>

Illinois Marijuana Laws: Part 1

marijana laws, gateway treatment centersILLINOIS MARIJUANA LAWS AND FEDERAL MARIJUANA LAWS

While marijuana possession remains illegal under federal law, as of March 2014, approximately 15 to 20 states have legalized medical marijuana possession. Currently Illinois and Michigan are the only two Midwestern states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Colorado and Washington have even legalized marijuana for recreational use. Despite these changes in public opinion, marijuana possession is still a crime in Illinois. Illinois marijuana laws forbid drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite present in their bodily fluids above a specific, state-imposed threshold.

MARIJUANA AND DRIVING: DUI

Having marijuana or THC in your system is not a crime in and of itself. However, there are local ordinances in some places regarding being “intoxicated” in public, or in the roadway. Also, if you drive with THC in your system, whether or not you are actually impaired, you are committing a DUI.

Penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) in Illinois vary according to whether it’s a first or subsequent conviction:

  •  First conviction: A first conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana is a class A misdemeanor. Penalties include up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
  • Second conviction: A violation is a class A misdemeanor. Penalties include a mandatory minimum of five days (and up to one year) in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and 240 hours of community service.
  •  Third and fourth convictions: A third or fourth violation is a class 2 felony, punishable with between three and 7 years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.

ILLINOIS MARIJUANA LAWS

The penalties for violating marijuana laws are all laid out in two sections of the Cannabis Control Act: 720 ILCS 550/4 and 720 ILCS 550/5.

Illinois marijuana laws focus on:

  • Quantity.
  • Personal possession vs. Intent to distribute.

Generally the more marijuana you have, the more serious the crime. And if you are in possession of marijuana with the intent to deliver, it is treated as a more serious crime.  Even sentences that don’t involve serving time for marijuana possession can include steep fines AND legal fees, classes or drug treatment, random drug tests and community service.

Also keep in mind, the crime is not just possession of marijuana, but possession of a substance containing cannabis. This means that if you use a misdemeanor amount of cannabis to make a pan of marijuana brownies, you are now in possession of a much heavier substance containing cannabis, and could be charged with a felony!

For more information on marijuana, visit RecoverGateway.org/marijuana.

If you or someone you know has tried before to stop using marijuana before but couldn’t quit, Gateway can help get life back on track. To arrange a free, confidential consultation, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

%d bloggers like this: