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Safety officials seek drugged driving standards

Despite shifting attitudes and laws across the country, marijuana is still illegal in Tennessee and at the federal level. This means that anyone accused of having, using or selling marijuana can face arrest and conviction.

That said, marijuana laws are changing more frequently now and safety officials argue that law enforcement tools and training are not keeping up with these changes. One area in particular that they want to address is creating standards for testing for drug-impaired driving.

Drugged versus drunk driving

Driving under the influence of any impairing substance is dangerous. But while we regularly see awareness campaigns aimed at reducing drunk driving, the same cannot be said for drugged driving.

Additionally, the laws related to drunk driving are well-established and clear. There is a legal limit of 0.08 percent, which law enforcement measures through blood or breath tests. There are procedures in place for testing, and failure to follow these procedures can be grounds to challenge a DUI charge.

There is not the same standardization when it comes to drugged driving. Often, arrests stem from highly subjective observations by police, and testing may show that a substance is in a person’s system, even if he or she is no longer impaired by it.

Calls for action

With all this in mind, U.S. Transportation safety officials are urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop standards for testing for drugged driving. They are asking for consistency in drug testing practices, guidance on police training and other solutions that would create consistency in testing drivers and enforcing impaired driving laws.

Unless and until that happens, arrests for drugged driving can be problematic and inconsistent. And drivers who ultimately face these or similar drug-related charges can understandably be scared and unsure of what rights they have and what they can do to defend themselves. As such, legal guidance when faced with these matters will be crucial.

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