Wheaton, IL- The dangers of drunken driving have been hammered in our heads so much so that motorists are actually heeding the warnings of safety advocates and refraining from driving after tossing back a few drinks. The same, however, cannot be said of drugged driving, as results from the National Roadside Survey, show this risky behavior is on the rise.

When the National Traffic Safety Administration began the roadside survey in the 1973, drunken driving was a rampant problem. At that time, 35.9 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers, who voluntarily participated in the survey, tested positive for alcohol use. In 2013-2014, however, only 8.3 of weekend nighttime drivers tested positive for alcohol use. That’s a steep decline in drunken driving and shows that public awareness campaigns and the effort of law enforcement agencies is working.

But when it comes to drug use and driving, American motorists are not as conscientious. The NRS tested drivers for substances with intoxicating effects including marijuana and other illegal drugs, over-the- counter medications and prescription drugs. Drugged driving among weekend nighttime drivers increased from 16.3 percent in 2007—the last time the National Roadside Survey was conducted—to 20 percent in 2013-2014. Marijuana use among drivers increased by nearly 50 percent, according to the survey.

The NRS notes that the presence of drugs in a person’s system is not indicative of impairment. Traces of some drugs, such as marijuana, which has become legal for recreational use in three states (Alaska, Colorado and Oregon), can remain in a person’s system long after the intoxicating effects wear off.

On a side note: A separate study from the NHTSA, found that driving under the influence of marijuana didn’t not significantly increase a user’s risk of being involved in a car collision. Still, it is illegal for a Illinois resident to drive with any amount of THC—the active compound in marijuana—in their bloodstream, however small that amount is.

That hold true for the state of Illinois, where drivers regardless of when they ingested marijuana or any other illegal or legally prescribed drug or whether they are impaired, can be charged with drugged driving. The state has a per se law, which means the presence of any drug is unlawful and a prosecutable offense.

If convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in the state of Illinois faces up to a year in jail, one-year suspension of their driver’s license and a maximum fine of $2,500. If that isn’t enough, a convicted DUI offender will see a significant increase in their insurance premiums and will be left with a permanent record. Those are steep penalties, but they can be avoided when the accused retains an Illinois DUI attorney to build an effective defense.

You don’t want to have a DUI conviction on your record, haunting you for years to come. The ramifications are too great so you need to consult with a DUI attorney in Wheaton immediately. It’s worth the time and additional costs to fight your charges and do whatever you can to prevent your conviction.