AAA: Drugged driving quickly surpassing drunk driving

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – The automotive group AAA says of the 53,000 arrests for DUI in Pennsylvania last year, half were for alcohol and the other 26,000 involved drugs.

AAA on Thursday held a Drugged Driving Summit in Harrisburg. Legislators, law enforcement, health care and other experts gathered to talk about Pennsylvania’s challenges when it comes to drugged drivers behind the wheel.

One of the big issues they discussed is the possibility of legalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania.

“Easier access to it means more availability, which means more people are going to be using it and then they’re going to be making the destructive decision of getting behind the wheel of an automobile,” said Stephen Erni, executive director of the Pennsylvania DUI Association.

Erni and Ted Leonard with AAA said both organizations are against legalizing the drug. Leonard cited information from a study on Washington state, which legalized marijuana in 2012. The following year, he said, drugged driving fatalities doubled.

“Impaired driving is impaired driving,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it is drugs or alcohol, it’s dangerous.”

Another issue discussed was how to better enforce field testing and prosecution for drugged driving.

AAA state leaders hope their message will be taken to Capitol Hill by legislators in attendance.

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