Study: More drivers on drugs than booze

Let's hope he's not getting behind the wheel anytime soon. (AP Photo)

Let's hope he's not getting behind the wheel anytime soon. (AP Photo)

Twice as many drivers are impaired by drugs than alcohol, according to a $650,000 study paid for by the U.S. government, which, despite being $16 trillion in debt, is spending money like a drunken sailor on ecstasy.

Speaking of bankrupt governments, the study was conducted in California, where survey takers risked death to “wave over hundreds of late-night California motorists over two weekends this summer.”

Oddly enough, 1,300 people agreed to pull over and take a survey, according to an article in The Orange County Register.  Drivers were paid $20 for their time, saliva, and presumably, honesty.

Tests showed that 14 percent of drivers had at least one drug in their system. Marijuana tokers accounted for more than half of the positive drug tests. Illegal drugs and prescription or over-the-counter medications that could impair driving, were responsible for the rest.

The test was able to determine if marijuana had been used in the past few hours.

Only 7 percent of drivers had a measurable level of alcohol on their breath, most well below the legal blood-alcohol limit of .08 percent, the newspaper reported. Nearly a quarter of those with alcohol in their system also tested positive for at least one drug.

One driver was too drunk to answer any questions. It’s a good thing he pulled over. He was given a ride and not charged with DUI.

Orange County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Wayne Howard said an increase in the usage of prescription pain and anxiety medications is creating more unsafe drivers.

“People think ‘drugs,’ they think heroin or meth. It’s not. It’s prescription drugs,” said Howard, who must not have been told the test results.

But drugged driving is at least as old as the Scooby Doo gang’s Mystery Machine, which I figure to be a mid-’60s Chevy.

A national survey done in 2007 found 16 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medications.

To quote Sgt. Phil Esterhaus, “Let’s be careful out there.”

13 comments Add your comment


November 28th, 2012
12:01 pm

Um, marijuana stays in your system for about 1 month, so all this tells you is that 50% of the drivers has smoked marijuana *some time* in the past 4 weeks or so. That is, unless they did a more detailed testing that would show about what level of THC was in their system. In any case, marijuana does not impair driving nearly as much as strong pain medicine or alcohol. I’m not endorsing smoking pot and driving, but it would be nice if reality could be discussed at some point instead of demonizing the most harmless, yet illegal, drug on the planet.

George Mathis

November 28th, 2012
12:09 pm

The test “looked only for an active ingredient called THC that dissipates within a few hours” said the original article. I will clarify in the blog post. Thanks for pointing that out.


November 28th, 2012
12:33 pm

This article brings to light something that shows the misconception that so many people, EVEN EXPERTS, consistently do. Alcohol IS A DRUG, and is the most abused DRUG of all of them. Don’t believe it’s a DRUG, just google it, or ask any doctor who knows his stuff, or a chemist. Therein, lies the major part of the problem. It is so accepted socially, that it gets a free pass, which is so wrong in many ways. The DRUG known as alcohol causes many more times the damages and heartaches of any other drug. Check that out too. That is why the US government is so hypocritical in its attack on tobacco. Alcohol should have been included in this all-out war. It’s no longer permissible to see anyone with a cigarette in their hand on TV, but an alcoholic drink, no problem! Go figure!!!!!

Just Wondering

November 28th, 2012
1:06 pm

The first thing that jumps out at you is that this survey is hardly random. Where did they test and who were these people who self-selected to take this test? Obviously these were who people needed $20 or they wouldn’t have stopped in their commute to do this survey.

Did they also test for caffeine? Did they test for nicotine levels as well? It seems to me that there is a very selective defining of what constitute a drug or not.

I’d also like to know more information. Did they ask about driving records and compare them? There are more questions than answers in this survey.


November 28th, 2012
1:17 pm

Dum-Bass, I agree with you on the fact that alcohol is a drug and that our gov’t has long tried to deny this. However, if you are suggesting that prohibition should have never been repealed, then that is the end of our agreement. About 5 times more people die each year from cigs vs. alcohol. What we really need is education and freedom. Let’s have an adult conversation about how dangerous each drug is relative to the next. Not classifying alcohol as a drug and then classifying marijuana as being just as dangerous as heroin and cocaine is just plain dumb and not even remotely centered on reality. The perpetual, never-ending war on drugs is a huge failure and money pit. Education is really what is needed here, and legalization (and full regulation) of marijuana of course. You see, people want their alcohol and marijuana and they will get it no matter what big gov’t does…history has shown this.


November 28th, 2012
1:28 pm

If they have a test for this study that can determine if someone has used cannabis in the past few hours, why don’t law enforcement agencies have access to this test? With them, it’s either you’ve used in the last 21-28 days or you haven’t. That, in turn, leads to many unnecessary/unwarranted arrests.

Conscious Warrior

November 28th, 2012
1:42 pm

Marijuana is nothing compared to what many of these prescription drugs do. We now live in a time where prescription drugs flow like water. As someone else eluded to, THOSE arer the true drugs along with alcohol. Alcohol is deadly. Period. It is the worst if you ask me. This test was a little insightful but definitely has too many outliers.

Pig Genelia

November 28th, 2012
1:57 pm

I drive after smoking the Wacky Tabbakky all the time!

Amanda Davis

November 28th, 2012
2:04 pm


November 28th, 2012
2:46 pm

It’s not the alcohol that’s so bad. It’s the person doing the drinking’s inability to control how much they consume, and their inability to judge what they can and cannot do when they’re drinking. In other words it is a drug that impairs a person’s ability to think straight. There are numbers of honkey tonks all up and down the roads with parking lots full of cars that are going to be operated by people who are going to be dui and this is perfectly fine yet they spend hundreds of thousands to run a study on who’s doing more of what. Well, they got their results………… what.


November 28th, 2012
3:06 pm

Thanks for those sympathy laws now our society has substituted one legal drug for one that is illegal thanks to Mothers Against Drinking. It used to be MADD but that has changed to prohibition by sympathy laws by MAD. The feminazis have won that one and the kids are on illegal drugs and they are driving without any fear. Thank you MAD! May you should change you name to Mothers Against Drugged Driving?


November 28th, 2012
3:18 pm

Big differences in the mental aspects of alcohol and marijuana.

Alcohol users believe themselves to be indestructible, bigger than life, and obnoxiously aggressive.
While marijuana, like alcohol and all drugs, does affect each user differently, by and large, most users are responsible, relaxed, observant, and in control of their motor skills and risk aversion.

We should continue to do our best to keep drunks off the road.

People think that marijuana legalization will increase usage. It may a little bit.
But seriously, do you think anyone who wants to smoke pot is having any problem obtaining pot? Legalization will not drive a social stampede.


November 28th, 2012
3:24 pm

Alcohol kills around 80k Americans a year (NOT including deaths by DUI etc) This is deaths by alcoholism, cirrhosis, overdose etc.+ (Not only is this acceptable, its downright expected of most young people and adults in the social world)

Tobacco kills 400,000 Americans a year – subsidized by the US Govt

Marijuana kills 0. but attracts 20 billion a year industry around policing and warehousing (jailing) users.