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The rise in driving under the influence of drugs

Florida is seeing an increase in the use of methamphetamine and heroin, and more Florida drivers may be under the influence of drugs than in previous years. In a number of states, law enforcement has reported an increase in opioid addiction and overdoses including overdoses while behind the wheel. Heroin is a growing problems in some communities as well. Since a drug like heroin requires regular doses in order to avoid withdrawal, a driver might use it while still in the car.

The NHTSA reports that in 2014, 20 percent of drivers tested positive for drugs. There is also evidence that in some circles, mixing driving and drugs may be somewhat acceptable. A 2011 study found drugged driving among college students about as common as drunk driving, and in a 2014 study, 10 million people said they had driven while under the influence of drugs.

News of drugged drivers is accompanied by statistics showing traffic fatalities are also increasing. During the first three quarters of 2015, deaths from traffic accidents went up more than 9 percent from the comparable period in 2014, and the preliminary statistics from 2016 are even grimmer.

Charges for driving under the influence of drugs and for drunk driving can be serious even if they are first-time offenses. License suspension, fines and jail time might all be penalties. However, people might be facing these kind of charges because a breath test has not been administered correctly or because an officer mistook a medical condition for impairment. A police officer might also have violated a person's rights at some stage during the traffic stop.

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