According to a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a nonprofit organization funded by alcohol distillers, positive drug tests were more common than presence of alcohol among driving accident fatalities who were tested in 2015. The study concluded, of those tested, 43 percent motorists who died were under the influence of drugs which included illegal and prescribed, was present in their system during the accident compared to 37 percent who had alcohol levels above the legal limit. Of the drivers which tested positive for drugs, 36.5 percent had marijuana in their system, followed by 9.3 percent had amphetamines, the report found. Critics of the study are quick to point out the data supplied to the report vary state to state. The report only collected data that the states reported and each state have different regulations on how often tests are used and what substances are tested. Two states tested 15 percent or less of fatal accidents, while nine states tested 85 percent or more, which made the data lackluster and cannot provide a solid conclusion.
Also stated in the report, the data only records the presence of drugs, not the amount of drug consumed that could be used to compare to an equivalent blood-alcohol level. Many impaired drivers are combining substances which can be even more dangerous. "As states across the country continue to struggle with drug-impaired driving, it's critical that we help them understand the current landscape and provide examples of best practices so they can craft the most effective countermeasures," said Governors Association Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. Impaired driving is illegal in all 50 states. However, laws and interpretations of drug impairment is non uniform across state lines and how often and what drugs are tested fluctuate. Usage laws also vary between states. Marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal in 29 states and DC, and there are eight states and DC which permit it for recreational use. As it stands, there are no drug field tests comparable to a preliminary alcohol screening using a breathalyzer. Law enforcement are trained to recognize signs of drug impairment and can make the decision at their own discretion to take a driver into custody for suspicion and further testing.