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Sen. Schumer proposes funding to combat drugged driving

In our previous post, we discussed how the State Senate recently passed a new DUI-related law designed to punish particularly dangerous behavior such as reckless driving and wrong-way drunk driving. Interestingly enough, a very prominent New York lawmaker -- Senator Charles Schumer -- recently held a joint press conference in which he called for federal action to combat yet another form of particularly dangerous behavior -- drugged driving.

Specifically, Senator Schumer and Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas are co-sponsoring legislation that would direct $140 million in federal funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to be used exclusively for research to develop a test for detecting drugged drivers and to train police officers.

"Cops need a Breathalyzer-like technology that works to identify drug-impaired drivers on-the-spot -- before they cause irreparable harm," said Schumer at a Sunday press conference here in New York City. "With the explosive growth of prescription drug abuse it's vital that local law enforcement have the tools and training they need to identify those driving under the influence of narcotics to get them off the road."

In support of their legislation, Sens. Schumer and Pryor pointed to some rather eye-opening statistics:

  • A 2009 federal report indicated that 10.5 million Americans admitted to driving under the influence of drugs
  • A 2007 NHTSA survey found that 16 percent of both nighttime and weekend drivers tested positive for either illegal prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs, while 11 percent tested positive for illegal drugs
  • A 2009 NHTSA report found that of the 12,055 motorists killed in car crashes who were tested for drugs, approximately one third tested positive

Senator Schumer also noted that over the last ten years, arrests for drugged driving have risen by 35 percent here in New York.

It remains to be seen if the proposed legislation to develop a drugged driving test and increase police training will gain any traction on Capitol Hill.

"If people next year knew that they'd be tested for drugged driving just like they are tested for drunk driving, it might deter them from doing it to begin with and save lives," said Senator Schumer.

Stay tuned for more from our New York traffic law blog ...

Being arrested for DWI/DUI can have a serious impact on your life in a number of ways and result in various penalties. In fact, many of these penalties are much more serious than the mere license suspension or revocation.

When faced with this scenario, consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


USA Today, "Police seek help identifying drugged drivers" Jan. 30, 2012

The New York Daily News, "Sen. Chuck Schumer says U.S. should test drivers for drug use" Jan. 30, 2012

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