Road safety: The danger of drugs while driving – Internet public services in the Haute-Loire

According to data for 2020, in metropolitan France, 2 out of 10 fatal accidents involve a driver on drugs. This share is one-third at night on weekends.

A driver who tests positive for cannabis increases the risk of being involved in a fatal crash by 1.65 times. Cannabis is an illegal drug product most commonly found in people who have been in a fatal car accident and who test positive for the drug. The proportion of fatal accidents that could have been avoided had no driver tested positive for cannabis is estimated at 4%.

In 2020, according to ONISR, 391 people died in drug accidents. They make up 21% of people who die in fatal accidents for whom the test result is known. It is estimated that, extrapolated to all crashes, 534 people died as a result of an accident involving a driver under the influence of drugs in 2020, compared to 731 in 2019.

Some key figures of the Haute-Loire department over 5 years (2017-2021)

Of the 661 road traffic injury accidents, 4.7% involved drugs.

5 killed, 40 wounded, 24 hospitalized used drugs.

While the physiological effects of cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy or heroin differ from one substance to another, they all reduce driving efficiency, especially in emergency situations.

Screening and checks

The police systematically conduct checks for the presence of substances or plants classified as drugs on any driver or any person accompanying a learning driver involved in:

• in manslaughter;

• in an injury accident where there is one or more good reasons to suspect that the injured person was driving after using drugs.

This screening can also be

• in the event of a major traffic accident;

• when the driver of the vehicle is the alleged perpetrator of the traffic violation;

• if there is one or more good reasons to suspect drug use;

• at the request of the prosecutor;

• on the initiative of law enforcement agencies.

Risk of a very harsh sentence

This offense results in the loss of six driving license points.

Sanctions (administrative and criminal) are aggravated when this offense is combined with alcohol intoxication: the punishment is increased to 3 years in prison and a fine of 9,000 euros. Note that the court may also decide to suspend your driver’s license for up to 3 years, or even revoke your driver’s license with a ban on applying for a new one for up to 3 years.

In 2021, the prefect of Haute-Loire decided to suspend 411 driving licenses for driving under the influence of drugs pending a court decision.

The risk of being paid a big bill

In the event of an accident after using a drug, the repair of your car is not covered by insurance, you lose the right to additional warranties taken with it, which can also lead to termination of the contract.

People injured in an accident can claim very significant damages in court.

Drivers who refuse to pass a driver’s license after consuming plants or substances classified as drugs are liable to imprisonment for up to 2 years and a fine of 4,500 euros. Failure to test can be thwarted by the same additional penalties as positive drug control.

When these offenses are committed in a state of relapse, they lead to the cancellation of a driver’s license with a ban on obtaining a new one for up to 3 years. They entail mandatory confiscation of the vehicle if the offender is its owner.

For more information, visit the traffic safety website:

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