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NTSB pushes for efforts to combat drug-impaired driving

Medical marijuana has been legalized in many states, including Pennsylvania. The penalties for driving under the influence remain the same. However, federal traffic safety officials have called for the government to do more to control the problem of driving while impaired by drugs.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to enact standards and give states guidance to combat the problem of drug-impaired driving. Currently, there is no standardized requirement for drug testing of drivers who are suspected to be impaired. The number of deaths from traffic accidents is increasing, and many are a result of the opioid epidemic. In 2015, 46 percent of drivers who were killed in fatal accidents tested positive for drugs. This was a 16 percent increase compared to statistics from 2006.

The NTSB is requesting the NHTSA to create a standardized oral fluid swab to test drivers who are suspected of impairment. While the request has yet to be acted upon, the NHTSA released an ad campaign in August 2018 to increase awareness of the problem of drug-impaired driving.

Someone who is facing drunk or drugged driving charges may benefit from consulting an experienced defense attorney. Such a charge may carry harsh potential consequences, including jail time, fines, community service and a driver's license suspension. If the incident involved aggravated circumstances or the driver has previous DUI convictions, the driver may be charged with a felony. To get a conviction of driving under the influence, the state must prove that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A defense attorney may be able to help a client get a case dismissed if there is a substantial problem with the state's case. If the state has substantial evidence to prove the case, legal counsel could try to negotiate a plea deal to a lesser sentence.

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