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Advisory Committee Chair

Elizabeth A Gardner

Advisory Committee Members

Jason G Linville

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2019

Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Driving under the influence of drugs combined with alcohol has become an increasing problem in the United States. When a person provides a breath test that results in less than the 0.08% per se limit, their driving may still be impaired from drug use. Over the past decade, more blood samples from DUI cases involving motor vehicle crashes have tested positive for drugs than for alcohol. Cases with previously analyzed blood samples were taken from the Laboratory Information Management System at the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for statistical analysis. The aim of this study was to review reported DUI cases over the past five years, determine what percentages of drugs are most prevalent below a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08%, and investigate the associated demographics. The results indicate the prevalence of drugs increases as the blood alcohol concentration decreases in DUI cases when a blood sample is drawn. The prevalence of drugs in cases with BACs < 0.08% was 77%, and the prevalence in cases with BACs ≥ 0.08% was over 50%. The most common drug abusers were white, male, and 18-29 years old. The three most common drugs with a negative BAC involved in DUIs and traffic crashes were alprazolam, cannabinoids, and amphetamine. For < 0.08% and ≥ 0.08 BACs, the three most common drugs were cannabinoids, alprazolam, and hydrocodone.The most common combination of drugs was depressants, stimulants, and opioids. The concentrations of drugs decreased as the blood alcohol concentration increased. Drug screening techniques are used to test for the presence of drugs in a blood sample in the laboratory, and the introduction to new technology such as oral fluid drug screening will aid in the detection of drug impaired drivers.

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