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A new report out from the Governors Highway Safety Association shows for the first time, people killed in car crashes are more likely to be under the influence of drugs than alcohol.
The study looked at national statistics from 2015, and determined 43% of the drivers used an illegal or legal drug, compared to 37% who tested above the legal limit for alcohol.
According to the study, of the drivers testing positive for drugs, more than a third had used marijuana.
9% were on amphetamines.
Just last month, Port St. Lucie Police Traffic Enforcement Officer Daniel Dalia saw the drugged driving epidemic up close and personal.
"We had an incident where a vehicle veered off the roadway, and two people were found unconscious with a young child in the car," he says. "One of our officers had to give CPR to both the driver and the passenger because they were overdosing on heroin."
Law enforcement says the rise of heroin in our area, combined with prescription pill abuse and shifting attitudes towards marijuana, is creating a new, pressing question.
How do you determine when someone is too drugged to drive?
Right now, there's no way to quickly test that, and there isn't any standard for drug impairment.
So as with any traffic stop, officer Dalia says it comes down to keen observation.
"I'm looking for certain signs. Are their eyes droopy, are their eyes bloodshot and watery, is their speech slurring."
He's says it's up to the discretion of the officer to take the next step.
"It's never a pass fail standard...it's what I see and what I can prove," he says. "I can prove through field sobriety that this person is impaired and should not be driving an automobile. That will give me the probable cause for making an arrest on DUI."
Until lawmakers figure out how navigate this new landscape, officers say they will do all they can to keep their streets safe.
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