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Opioid epidemic leading to increases in drugged driving

It's no shock that alcohol remains the foremost substance abused by drivers. However, Texas residents may be surprised to learn that more and more drugged drivers are illegally using the roadways.

According to the 2014 National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 10 million individuals 12 years of age and older have acknowledged that they have operated a vehicle while under the influence of illicit drugs, which includes a misuse of prescription medications, tranquilizers, cocaine, heroin and marijuana. There is a growing trend of substance abuse among U.S. drivers, and states are finding it difficult to control the epidemic of opioid overdoses among drugged drivers.

According to a survey conducted by the National Highway Safety Administration in 2014, one-fifth of the drivers surveyed tested positive for drugs. In another study by the NHSA in 2011, the organization determined that the frequency of drugged driving compares with drunk driving by college students.

In regards to drugged driving-related deaths, from January to September of 2015 there was a sharp increase of 9.3 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The largest numbers of people overdosing on drugs reside in some southern states, including Florida, in the Pacific Northwest, and in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. One factor for the surge in drugged driving overdoses might be due to the fact drug users do not want to experience withdrawal symptoms, so they use their drugs while driving instead of waiting until they arrive at their destination.

Those who face drugged driving charges in Texas might consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney who could help them avoid penalties. The attorney could challenge a sobriety test in an effort to help the defendant avoid the consequences of a conviction.

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