SOFT - TIAFT 1998 Poster Session 4 Friday October 9, 1998

Betty J. Buchan

Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, University of South Florida College of Public Health, 13201 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Tampa, Florida 33612-3805, USA

Due to the illegal nature of drugs of abuse, accurate estimates of their use in most population groups are extremely difficult to obtain. There are no national statistics on the use by drivers and very few community estimates. Research conducted by the USF College of Public Health estimated the prevalence of drug impaired adult drivers arrested for DUI, the number of drivers and passengers injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash, and the number of juvenile drug impaired drivers; all in Hillsborough County, Florida during the same time period.

Current collaborative law enforcement training focuses on the development, evaluation, and dissemination of cost efficient training for law enforcement agencies utilizing new urine drug testing technology to facilitate the detection of drugged drivers. On-site urine drug testing, in combination with drug recognition training, provides a new opportunity for law enforcement.

Florida law provides that should a person be proven guilty of driving while his normal faculties were impaired by drugs he would suffer the same penalties as the "drunk driver". But the proof necessary to obtain such convictions remains elusive. Unfortunately, due to the fact that urine tests do not readily provide quantifiable results, it is unlikely that a defendant can be convicted of driving under the influence on the basis of evidence of impairment and the presence of an unquantified amount of illicit drugs in his urine. Efforts are underway to adopt a "per se" law in Florida allowing a person to be found guilty of driving under the influence if he was operating a motor vehicle while any illicit drugs were present in his system.

Due to increasing aswareness of drugged drivers as a public health problem requiring attention, a new approach being investigated is the feasibility of drug testing high risk drivers prior to applying for renewal of a drivers license.

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