Drug Per Se Laws: A Review of Their Use in the States [Traffic Tech]
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Drug Per Se Laws: A Review of Their Use in the States [Traffic Tech]

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      Research has indicated that per se laws for alcohol have been effective in reducing alcohol-related fatalities. A difficulty in prosecuting drivers for driving impaired by drugs other than alcohol is that there is no scientific basis for specifying a bodily fluid concentration that is indicative of impairment. Successful prosecution has typically involved establishing behavioral evidence of impairment coupled with evidence of drug use, with the opinion that the drug use is likely to have caused the impairment. Several States have implemented per se laws for drugs. Drug per se laws are not quite analogous to the alcohol impaireddriving per se laws now in effect in every State which make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or greater. Alcohol-impaired-driving per se laws are based on evidence that all drivers are impaired at a BAC of .08 g/dL. Drug per se laws are more analogous to zero-tolerance laws that make it illegal to drive with certain drugs in the system. The objective of this project was to determine the extent to which States that have drug per se laws use them, and document any special concerns that arise when making and prosecuting an arrest under a drug per se law. The National HighwayTraffic SafetyAdministration was also interested in determining whether these laws are effective in increasing driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) arrests and convictions. To learn about drug per se laws, NHTSA contracted with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE).
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