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Golfer's arrest shines light on drugged driving

Many across Rhode Island and across the nation have heard of the DUI arrest of famed golfer, Tiger Woods, that happened near his home in Florida at the end of May. Woods blew a .000 on his Breathalyzer, according to The Atlantic, but issued a statement saying his erratic driving was due to “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications."

With his arrest, Woods has become the face of a problem plaguing people across the nation: drugged driving. Americans drivers who die in a car crash are now more likely to have had drugs, not alcohol, in their systems at the time of death. This is a clear reversal in recent years. As recently as 2005 alcohol was involved in 41 percent of fatal crashes, compared to 28 percent for drugs. A 2015 report puts those numbers at 37 percent for alcohol and 43 percent for drugs.

All drug-related deaths are not illegal, and according to reports 20 percent of drivers have taken a prescription drug within the last 48 hours, including painkillers and sedatives. Marijuana and amphetamines are the most common illegal drugs used while driving. As the Palm Beach Post explains, drivers who are pulled over for DUI, whether for suspected alcohol or drug use, are put through a field sobriety test, which includes walking in a straight line and turning, touching finger to nose and trying to stand on one leg. The legal limit for alcohol is .08 blood-content, but there is not a similar measure for drugs in the system, legal or otherwise. Drivers who have legal prescriptions are not absolved of DUI charges because their prescription is from a doctor, so it is important to understand the warnings on any medications.


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