In the wake of National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, which was observed in December, Tampa personal injury lawyer Larry Disparti says he hopes lawmakers in Florida will work toward reducing drugged driving in the state.

“Stronger laws and stiffer penalties have reduced the incidence of drunk driving, and they could do the same in Florida for drugged driving,” Disparti said. His Florida personal injury law firm, Disparti Law Group, helps obtain compensation for people who have been injured through the negligence of others.

One proposal calls for adoption of “per se” laws, also known as zero tolerance laws. This would make it illegal for a driver to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of a controlled substance in their body. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 17 states have enacted such laws.

“Adopting ‘per se’ drugged driving laws and continuing to fund training so local police can better recognize drugged driving are steps Florida legislators could possibly take to increase highway safety in our state,” Disparti said.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System show that the overall number of car crash fatalities has gone down. However the involvement of drugs in fatal accidents has gone up by 6 percent in the last six years.

In 2010, more than 1,200 drug-related crashes were reported in Florida, causing more than 950 personal injuries and more than 100 deaths.

“It’s time for Florida to respond to drugged driving in a manner equivalent to the successful efforts to reduce drunk driving that were begun in the 1980s,” Disparti said.