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Drunk driving audit shows increase in drug-related crashes

The 2009 Michigan Drunk Driving Audit shows declines in alcohol-related crashes, fatalities and arrests, but notes increases in crashes and injuries involving drugs.

Traffic deaths resulting from alcohol and/or drug-related crashes decreased from 379 in 2008, to 351 in 2009. However, the number of people injured in crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs increased last year from 6,248 in 2008, to 6,271 in 2009. Much of that increase involved drivers who had drugs in their system, which accounted for 83 additional injuries last year compared to 2008.

“As we review the data, we are continuing to see drugs playing a larger role in traffic crashes and injuries,” said Colonel Eddie L. Washington, Jr., director of the Michigan State Police (MSP). “However, much of that increase is due to expanded drug testing requests by law enforcement following an arrest.”

A change made to Michigan law, in 2003, makes driving with any trace of drugs such as heroin, marijuana or cocaine in a person’s system illegal. In response to that change, testing for these substances has more than doubled over the past five years.

The Drunk Driving Audit is an annual report issued by the MSP Criminal Justice Information Center and is a collaborative effort between the MSP and the Michigan Department of State.

“Fewer drunken driving arrests show our efforts to discourage drinking and driving are working,” said Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. “But we must continue educating drivers, especially new ones, about the dangers of driving under the influence. Awareness and education are key to reducing alcohol-related crashes and injuries.”

In 2009, 45,893 alcohol and drug-related driving arrests were made, 1,358 fewer than in 2008. Although arrests of both men and women declined in 2009, arrest numbers for impaired female drivers were nearly the same as 2008, with 11,671 women arrested last year compared to 11,743 in 2008. Although male drivers accounted for the biggest drop, they were still nearly three times as likely to be arrested for impaired driving with 34,222 arrests.

Of those arrests, 46,370 resulted in operating under the influence of liquor or impaired driving convictions. Some of these convictions may include arrests made in prior years.

The 2009 Drunk Driving Audit is available at www.michigan.gov/msp. Click on Publications, Forms & Statistics, then select Statistical Information and then choose Drunk Driving Audit.

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