Is Anyone Sober? Under The Influence During Criminal Arrests And Accidents – Here’s The Truth About America



Data indicates that most people involved in serious accidents or those criminally arrested were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or have substances in their system.

Police officers routinely come into contact with impaired people or individuals with mental health issues. Out of 54 million police-citizen contacts yearly, what could go wrong?

Editor’s Note

Testing positive for drugs and alcohol doesn’t necessarily mean that a driver or criminal arrestee was impaired at the time of the incident. For example, marijuana can stay in the bloodstream for weeks. Regardless, there are serious policy and officer safety implications per the numbers below.

CNN (selected-rearranged quotes)

More than 55% of people involved in serious or fatal road accidents tested positive for drugs or alcohol, according to a new study.

Impaired driving is one of the leading causes of fatal crashes in the United States. Alcohol and drugs can impair a person’s reaction time, thinking and physical ability to navigate the road.

Every day in the US, 29 people die in car crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – and it’s unclear how many more are killed in accidents involving drivers under the influence of drugs.

However, the researchers of the new study sought to expand what’s known about road safety by looking beyond drivers. Their study, published this week by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, looked at information on passengers, bikers, electric scooter riders and pedestrians who were involved in accidents, as well as drivers.

The study found that a quarter of serious or fatal accidents involved someone who tested positive for some form of weed, and nearly a quarter more had alcohol in their system.

About 11% of people tested positive for some form of stimulant, like cocaine or methamphetamines, and 9% had opioids in their system.

In 32% of the fatal accidents and 18% of the ones with serious injuries, there were two or more drugs in the system of someone involved. That’s in line with previous research that found that the combined use of substances such as cannabis and alcohol, for instance, leads to more severe injuries and more fatal driving accidents compared with either substance alone, particularly for younger drivers.

They looked at records from September 2019 through July 2021 from Level 1 trauma centers in Jacksonville, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Miami; Baltimore; Worcester, Massachusetts; Iowa City, Iowa; and Sacramento, California.

In February, a national survey found that more than 40% of people using alcohol or cannabis report driving under the influence.



Under The Influence At Arrest

Editor’s note: This is discontinued research from the National Institute of Justice, US Department of Justice available through the Web Archives.

I use this data, last released in 2000, because of the large, methodologically correct numbers involved. Those of us who write about crime and justice routinely use older USDOJ data because, quite simply, it remains the best available research.

Report Summation

Anywhere from 56 percent (Charlotte) to 82 percent (Chicago) of arrestees tested positive for the presence of some substance at the time of an arrest.

The ADAM Program collected data from more than 30,000 adult male arrestees in 34 sites and from more than 10,000 adult female arrestees in 32 sites. Additionally, data were collected from more than 2,500 juvenile male detainees in nine sites and more than 400 juvenile female detainees in six sites.

The level of recent drug use among 1999 ADAM arrestees was substantial. Every site reported that at least 50 percent of adult male arrestees tested positive for at least one drug.

In 27 of the 34 sites, more than 60 percent of the adult male arrestees tested positive for the presence of at least one of the NIDA-5 drugs, ranging from 50 percent in San Antonio to 77 percent in Atlanta.

For female adult arrestees, the median rate for use of any drug was 67 percent.

Among adult males, marijuana was the drug most often detected in 24 of the 34 reporting sites, and cocaine was the drug most likely to be detected in the other 10 sites. Among adult female arrestees, cocaine was the drug most often detected in 25 of 32 sites.

In the remaining sites, marijuana was the most frequently detected drug (four sites) followed by methamphetamine (three sites). Multiple drug use was evident among arrestees in some of the ADAM sites.

Source-Web Archives

National Institute Of Justice (list of available ADAM documents)

The report cited is at the National Institute of Justice

The Dynamics of Arrests-What Cops Face

There is immense controversy regarding police interactions and the use of force at the time of an arrest. The simplest of exchanges can explode. People need to understand the dynamics. According to national polling, two percent involve the use or threat of force.

Per Bureau of Justice Statistics research, more than half of all prison and jail inmates had mental health problems. These estimates represented 56% of state prisoners, 45% of federal prisoners, and 64% of jail inmates, Mental Health And Crime.

Add substance abuse and histories of violence and data stating that most correctional offenders come from troubled backgrounds (i.e., child abuse and neglect, brain injuries, exposure to violence) and we begin to understand the dangers and difficulties of police officers making stops and arrests.

“I know there’s a saying that ‘Hurt people, hurt people,’” Winfield said. “But where I come from, hurt people kill people, CBS News Covering Baltimore. Cops deal with a lot of “hurt people” daily.

Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics, many corrections offenders have severe medical issues which complicate interactions.

It’s also common for weapons and firearms to be present.


Police officers routinely come into contact with people under the influence of drugs or alcohol or individuals with mental health backgrounds. Out of 54 million yearly police-citizen contacts, what could go wrong?

Yes, arrests and serious accidents make up a small portion of those contacts but there is a point where arrests or citations become problems partially or solely due to offenders and their limited cognitive abilities (i.e., they were drunk or abused as a child).

Anyone who has been a cop can tell endless stories about confrontations that get out of hand because of drunk drivers or stoned arrestees. What should be a simple interaction becomes confrontational or violent because the suspect simply won’t comply with verbal requests or warnings.

Police officers know this. We’ve all had trials where extremely belligerent people at the scene were meek and mild before a judge while claiming that drugs or alcohol influenced their bad behavior. They weren’t so contrite during the events that led to their arrests.

See More

See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.

Most Dangerous Cities/States/Countries at Most Dangerous Cities.

US Crime Rates at Nationwide Crime Rates.

National Offender Recidivism Rates at Offender Recidivism.

An Overview Of Data On Mental Health at Mental Health And Crime.

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