Marijuana Legalization and Impaired Driving: Solutions for Protecting Our Roadways
Large trucks, automobiles and other vehicles share the nation’s highways and surface streets, accumulating more than 3 trillion vehicle-miles-traveled each year. Of these miles, drivers of large trucks accumulate more than 180 billion miles in order to move the nation’s freight and earn their living.
To operate a large truck, drivers must hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and are subject to drug testing rules due to their safety-sensitive employee designation. The vehicles operating alongside large trucks are predominately automobiles that are driven for non-commercial purposes. While automobile drivers must hold a driver’s license, there is no requirement to pass a drug test or to be randomly tested for drug use.
To ensure a safe driving environment, however, all drivers are subject to state laws that prohibit impaired driving that results from drug or alcohol consumption. Driving while under the influence carries large penalties including fines, loss of driving privileges and even jail sentences. That said, an impaired driver must be identified by law enforcement, the impairment must be documented and the individual must be successfully prosecuted in order to face such consequences.
Marijuana is one of many drugs that, when consumed, can cause significant and dangerous driving impairment. As states have legalized recreational use of marijuana over the past decade, there has also been an increase in passenger vehicle drivers testing positive for marijuana.