State officials warning about dangers of drug-impaired drivers

It perhaps goes without saying that people throughout Wisconsin will be very busy with holiday-related activities over the next few weeks. While a considerable amount of time will be devoted to decorating, cooking, baking and, of course, gift-wrapping, it will also be spent attending social gatherings involving family, friends and co-workers.

Given that alcohol is a fixture at many of these parties, law enforcement officials have been sounding the alarm about the dangers of drunk driving, advising those motorists who wisely choose to abstain to remain vigilant while out and about. In fact, they are now warning motorists about a new intoxicated driving danger that they say is present not just during the holidays, but year round.

What exactly is this intoxicated driving danger?  

The danger about which state law enforcement officials are warning motorists is driving under the influence of drugs, both illegal and legal.

How big of a danger is drug-impaired driving?

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, as many as 25 percent of drivers pulled over for impaired driving are later found to be under the influence of drugs.

Even more shocking, WisDOT found that there were an astounding 149 drug-related traffic deaths on state roads and highways in 2015. Indeed, it determined that while alcohol-related driving fatalities have actually decreased by 38 percent over the last decade, drug-related driving fatalities have actually increased by 200 percent over this same timeframe.

How is the state combating this danger?

Officials indicate that there are currently 230-plus law enforcement officials with specialized training enabling them to detect drug-impaired drivers out patrolling the roadways and that more are on the way.

Furthermore, in recognition of the fact that prescription drug abuse is a major part of the problem, WisDOT recently joined forces with the Wisconsin Department of Justice to produce a series of television and radio public service announcements warning how drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.

What can people do to ensure that they don't inadvertently drive under the influence of prescription drugs?  

Some simple steps offered by WisDOT to avoid drug-impaired driving include never mixing alcohol and drugs, taking medications as prescribed, and heeding warning labels about operating heavy machinery found on both prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines.

Always remember that if you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash caused by an impaired driver that you can seek justice for all the harm you've endured. Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your options. 

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