That impaired driver you see on the road may be on drugs rather than drunk, a state survey shows.

More than 1,300 drivers voluntarily provided breath and/or saliva samples at roadside locations last summer in nine cities around the state between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays — the peak times of impaired driving.

The state Office of Traffic Safety said tests of those samples showed that 14 percent of the drivers tested positive for illegal and/or legal drugs, although there was no conclusion made that any actually were impaired, while 7.3 percent tested positive for alcohol, with some deemed impaired.

“These results reinforce our belief that driving after consuming potentially impairing drugs is a serious and growing problem,” Christopher J. Murphy, director of the agency, said in a statement.

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report found that of drivers killed in crashes in 2010 in California, 30 percent tested positive for legal and/or illegal drugs.

Of those testing positive for drugs, just more than half showed marijuana in their system. Of those testing positive for alcohol, 23 percent also tested positive for having at least one drug in their system.

To help crack down on drug-impaired driving, the Office of Traffic Safety said it is funding training for more police officers and prosecutors around the state and new laboratory drug-testing equipment.

The survey was conducted in Anaheim, Chula Vista, Eureka, Fresno, Gardena, Modesto, Ontario, Redding and San Rafael.

The breath samples were tested for alcohol. The saliva samples were tested for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana; major illegal drugs; prescription drugs; and over-the-counter medications that may affect driving, the Office of Traffic Safety said.


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    February 25th, 2013 11:52 pm

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