The U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a huge emotional toll on American military members from Kansas and elsewhere. As a result, more veterans may be binge drinking and drunk driving, according to a new study.
The laws in Kansas against drunk driving have been clear for years, but drug-impaired driving is more difficult to detect than alcohol. Research assembled by the National Transportation Safety Board has revealed a substantial increase in drug use among drivers who died in crashes. In 2006, toxicology testing of deceased drivers measured the presence of drugs, such as prescription drugs, marijuana or opiates, in 30 percent of victims. By 2015, the number of deceased drivers testing positive for drugs had gone up to 46 percent.
In Kansas, the legal blood alcohol limit is .08 percent. However, various groups are of the opinion that this limit should be reduced. In fact, the legal limit in Utah will be .05 percent starting at the end of December. The National Traffic Safety Board also agrees that drivers should not operate motor vehicles with a blood alcohol content of more .05 percent. Research from the Texas Medical Center Health Policy Institute found that most Americans were in favor of such a reduction.
A growing number of car accidents in Kansas and across the country is prompting demands to lower the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit once again. Deaths related to drunk driving have dropped significantly over the past decades, but a significant percentage of fatal accidents continue to be attributed to the influence of alcohol, exceeding those caused by distracted driving or drugged driving. According to one study, almost 40 percent of those killed in drunk driving accidents were not drunk themselves.
Most drivers in Kansas are considered intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher, but stricter rules apply to commercial vehicle drivers and those under the legal drinking age of 21. The penalties for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol can be severe for motorists who cause serious accidents or have a history of drunk driving, and people who operate a vehicle while intoxicated with passengers under the age of 14 also face more severe penalties in Kansas.