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How Big of a Problem is Drugged Driving in Wisconsin?

A drug is any chemical substance that affects the way the body works. The term “drug” includes prescription medicines, over-the-counter remedies, alcohol, street drugs and even caffeine. Many of these substances, both legal and illegal, can affect perception, judgment, motor skills, and memory—the very skills we need to safely operate a vehicle.

How big of a problem is drugged driving in Wisconsin?

  • In 2007, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted the National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers. This survey found that one out of eight (12.5%) nighttime, weekend drivers tested positive for illegal drugs.
     
  • According to the 2010 Monitoring the Future Study (MTF), one out of eight teens admitted to driving after smoking marijuana within the two weeks prior to taking the survey.
     
  • The NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database (2009) found that 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for drug involvement.
     

In Wisconsin, it is unlawful for a driver to have any amount of an illegal drug in his system while driving. But drugged driving accidents happen. On September 19, 2013, William Mancusi III was arrested for driving while impaired by drugs. He had previously served a prison term for the drugged driving death of 48-year-old Alfred Poggiogalle. At the time, Mancusi was under the influence of both cocaine and marijuana.

On October 2, a Greendale woman was sentenced to one year in prison for hitting a disabled man while driving under the influence of marijuana.

While many people believe that marijuana does not impair driving ability, it is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and accident victims. Other drugs found in impaired drivers include cocaine, benzodiazepines, opiates, amphetamines, and “bath salts.”

If you are injured by a drugged driver in Wisconsin, you have a right to be angry. The driver broke the law, put your life at risk, and endangered others for the sake of his “high.” You also have a right to accountability. 

 

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham