The need for drugged driving per se laws: a commentary

Traffic Inj Prev. 2012;13(1):31-42. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2011.632658.


Objective: Triggered by the new federal commitment announced by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONCDP) to encourage states to enact drugged driving per se laws, this article reviews the reasons to establish such laws and the issues that may arise when trying to enforce them.

Methods: A review of the state of drunk driving per se laws and their implications for drugged driving is presented, with a review of impaired driving enforcement procedures and drug testing technology.

Results: Currently, enforcement of drugged driving laws is an adjunct to the enforcement of laws regarding alcohol impairment. Drivers are apprehended when showing signs of alcohol intoxication and only in the relatively few cases where the blood alcohol concentration of the arrested driver does not account for the observed behavior is the possibility of drug impairment pursued. In most states, the term impaired driving covers both alcohol and drug impairment; thus, driver conviction records may not distinguish between the two different sources of impairment. As a result, enforcement statistics do not reflect the prevalence of drugged driving.

Conclusions: Based on the analysis presented, this article recommends a number of steps that can be taken to evaluate current drugged driving enforcement procedures and to move toward the enactment of drug per se laws.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholic Intoxication / blood
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / prevention & control*
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Humans
  • Law Enforcement / methods*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • United States


  • Ethanol