It is no secret that the Houston Metropolitan area leads the nation in fatal crashes involving impaired drivers. Between 2001 and 2016, the Houston area (a nine-county region) had more fatal crashes caused by intoxicated drivers than any other major metropolitan area in the country. Fortunately, with the help of technology, law-makers, law enforcement, and advocacy organizations, there has been a decrease across the nation in the number of drunken driving deaths in the last several years. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in the number of drugged driving deaths.
In 2016, 43.6% of fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs in their system, up from 27.8% in 2005, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association report. More than half of these drivers had marijuana, opioids, or a combination of the two in their system. In 2019, the proportion of drugged driving to drunken driving continued to go up in the Houston area, a “five fold increase” according to Dr. Peter Stout, the President and CEO of Houston’s Forensic Science Center. And in February 2020, a research article published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, revealed roughly 1 in 5 DWI cases in the city of Houston involved a driver impaired by phencyclidine, a dissociative anesthetic drug, better known as PCP.
With the de-criminalization of marijuana and the current opioid epidemic affecting the entire nation, experts agree there are more drug intoxicated drivers on the road than ever before. Unfortunately, law enforcement and crime labs continue to struggle to find quick and reliable methods to test drivers roadside for intoxication by illegal and prescription drugs. With drug use rapidly rising and limitations on reliable testing, there is no doubt that Houston will continue to see an increase in its drugged driving problem and its drugged driving fatalities.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the experienced attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner at (713) 222-7211 or toll free at 713-222-7211.