Drugs, Driving and the Law: A Report to the Governor and General Assembly of Virginia

Report No: 73-R11

Published in 1973

About the report:

While laboratory studies have demonstrated that a wide variety of drugs can produce decrements in simulated driving performance there is as yet little evidence that drivers who use legal and illegal drugs cause a disproportionate number of traffic accidents. A wide and increasing variety of tests are available to determine whether a person has ingested a drug, but these tests do not lend themselves to wide scale application in the field of highway safety. Data do not exist that correlate a given concentration of drug in the blood or urine with a given level of driving impairment. Until such data are developed, presumptive levels of drug intoxication will not be available as an enforcement tool. Virginia's statute on driving under the influence of drugs, §18.1-54, ignores the possible impairing effect of a drug and focuses instead on its source. If further research determines that drugs do cause a significant risk to highway safety, that risk will be created by legal as well as illegal drugs. In order to have a statute that more accurately reflects current knowledge of drugs and driving and at the same time has the flexibility to take account of new developments in the field, the Highway Safety Division recommends that the General Assembly consider revising §18.1-54 to substantially conform with the Uniform Vehicle Code position on drugs.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Alvin J. Lorman

Last updated: February 6, 2024

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