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State-by-State Analysis of Laws Dealing With Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

NCJ Number
J. Michael Walsh
Date Published
December 2009
132 pages
This report analyzes each State's laws related to impaired driving while under the influence of drugs (DUID) as of December 2008.
Seventeen States have enacted DUID laws. These States are Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The majority of State DUID statutes contain provisions for a substance abuse clinical evaluation and education/treatment for those convicted of DUID; however, laws in many States include provisions that make it difficult to identify, prosecute, or convict drugged drivers. There are three principal types of DUID laws. One type requires that the drug at issue in a DUID case render a driver "incapable" of driving safely. A second type of law requires a driver to be "under the influence or affected by an intoxicating drug." Third, "per se" statutes make it a criminal offense to have a drug or metabolite in one's body/body fluids while operating a motor vehicle. These are often referred to as "zero tolerance" laws. In the first two types of laws, which are the most prevalent in the United States, the State must prove that "the drug" caused the impaired driving, which is a technically complicated and difficult task. The 17 States with "per se" type laws cover approximately 40 percent of all licensed drivers in the United States. Generally, this State-by-State analysis indicates there is a lack of uniformity or consistency in the way the States approach drugged drivers. The current DUID laws in many States do not support or encourage enforcement and prosecution of DUID other than alcohol. There is a need for national leadership in developing model statutes and to encourage the States to modify their laws to be more effective. 7 references and appended State-by-State provisions of DUID laws