Drivers who choose to get behind the wheel after drinking are a real problem in Texas, but there is another threat that is getting talked about more and more frequently. As an opioid crisis grips the nation, both prescription painkillers and illegal opiates are leading to an increase in drugged driving. Driving while on opioids is just as dangerous and illegal as driving under the influence of alcohol.
Here are the facts about opioid-related car accidents, including the effects of opiates, how to tell if the driver who hit you was under the influence of opioid drugs, and how to protect your own legal rights after an accident.
What Are Opioid Drugs?
Opioid or opiate drugs are a broad class of drugs that are related to naturally-occurring compounds in a flower, the opium poppy. Currently, some opioids are still made from plant extracts, but there are many kinds available that are either partially or fully synthetic. Synthetic opioid drugs are made in a laboratory from other chemicals. These drugs share structural similarities with other opioids, but they are often dozens or even hundreds of time stronger than their naturally-occurring counterparts. Some common types or brands of opioid drugs include:
- Morphine (Avinza, Kadian, Morphabond, Roxanol)
- Fentanyl (Actiq, Fentora, Abstral, Onsolis)
- Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco)
- Oxymorphone (Opana)
While some of these drugs may be found alone, many are distributed in combination form, mixed with other medicines. For example, many prescription cough syrups contain codeine combined with an anti-tussive (anti-coughing), which can have additional side effects that make it extremely dangerous to drive.
Effects of Opioids on Drivers
What makes these and related opioid drugs so dangerous is the effect that they have on the body. There are a number of side effects that make it dangerous to operate a vehicle or heavy machinery while taking these kinds of drugs. These effects can include:
- Euphoria or feeling “high”
- Mental confusion
- Sleepiness, drowsiness, or sedation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slowed or shallow breathing
All of these side effects can come together to make getting behind the wheel an extremely dangerous proposition, as reaction time can be significantly altered, reflexes slowed, and both vision and attention become impaired.
When someone drives while on opioids, an accident is extremely likely, and the numbers reflect that. According to at least one recent report, traffic fatalities involving prescription painkillers increased seven times in recent years, as prescriptions for opioid painkillers have quadrupled.
What to Do After an Accident
If you’re involved in a car accident and you suspect that the other driver was intoxicated by prescription painkillers, talk to a personal injury attorney about your situation right away.
An attorney can investigate the accident and collect the evidence that you’ll need to press your claim for damages in civil court, regardless of the outcome of any criminal charges against the person who caused the accident. Even if the other driver is facing criminal charges for DUI or DWI (which is a charge that drivers can face while using prescription or illegal drugs, not just alcohol), a personal injury suit is how you and your family will be able to receive the compensation you’re owed for your losses after the crash.
Get Legal Help Now
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, we’d like to hear from you today. The attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP have been working hard for decades to protect the legal rights of those who have been injured by the carelessness, recklessness, or negligence of others, and we’re here to help your family seek the justice you deserve in a court of law.
To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional about your accident, call Wayne Wright LLP by phone, use our online contact form, or click the live chat box on this page right now.