2 years after marijuana legalized in NY, impaired driving a concernPosted by On

ALBANY — The number of motorists charged with driving under the influence of narcotics, including marijuana, has risen steadily over the past five years in New York. In 2021, the year the state legalized marijuana, more than 10 percent of the impaired-driving tickets that were issued involved drug use, records show. 

It’s unclear whether marijuana legalization is having a direct impact on the increase in drug-impaired driving, especially as the nation is experiencing a fentanyl epidemic and the overall use of opioids and other narcotics has soared.

But the number of drivers impaired by marijuana and involved in fatal crashes has been surging for years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that between 2009 and 2018, the presence of cannabis had nearly doubled in drivers who were killed in crashes and subsequently tested for drugs. In 2018, nearly half of the drivers killed and later screened for drugs had tested positive for cannabis.

Data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, a nonprofit based in Colonie that was established by New York in 1978 to help government mitigate and solve traffic safety problems, also shows that over the past three years, the percentage of drug impairment has surpassed alcohol impairment in fatal crashes.

State Police officials, who have been steadily increasing the…

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