Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious problem, but America is now facing an increasing number of drivers who are under the influence of drugs other than alcohol. Driving while intoxicated with any controlled substance, whether it’s a prescription drug or illegal recreational drug, is a crime in the state of Texas, and drivers who make the choice to get behind the wheel can cause serious injuries when their actions lead to a crash.
Here’s what you should know about drugged driving, including statistics, why drugged driving is so dangerous, the types of drugs that can cause a DUI accident, and what to do if you or someone you love has been hurt or killed in an accident.
Drugged Driving Statistics
Drugged driving isn’t a new problem, but it is one that is getting more attention lately, especially with growing concern over an opioid addiction crisis, as well as the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana. Figures from the Texas Department of Transportation show that there was an 18 percent increase in drugged driving crashes between 2010 and 2016.
Drugged driving isn’t just a Texas problem, either. Data from the federal Fatality Analysis and Reporting System (FARS) shows that of all of the drivers killed in accidents in 2015 who were tested for drug use, over one-third had evidence of a FARS-cataloged drug in their bodies, including marijuana, amphetamines, and other drugs.
What Makes Drugged Driving Dangerous
Much like alcohol, driving under the influence of many kinds of drugs can cause impairment. This effect isn’t limited to illegal drugs like marijuana, methamphetamine, or heroin, either—there are many prescription and even over-the-counter drugs that can impair judgment, slow down reaction time, suppress motor skills, cause dangerous drowsiness, interfere with attention, or reduce visual ability. Painkilling drugs are well-known for their effects, but there are many other classes of medication, such as allergy medications, cold or cough pills or syrups, heart medications, psychiatric medications, sedatives, and others can all have negative effects that can lead to a car accident if someone gets behind the wheel after using them.
In an alcohol-related DUI crash, it’s fairly simple medical science to determine if the driver has consumed alcohol, no matter what they’ve had to drink. The intoxicating effects of beer, wine, and hard liquor all come down to one substance that can be easily tested for via breath or blood. Alcohol also generally affects the body of drinkers similarly, so it’s easier to tell when someone has been drinking. With drugged driving, there are thousands of substances that can cause intoxication in many different ways. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association reports that there are as many as 430 drugs and drug metabolites in the national highway safety database. The signs and symptoms of intoxication of many of these may not be so obvious, presenting a legal challenge to those who have been hurt in a crash caused by somebody who was under the influence.
What to Do After an Accident
Drugged driving is a real danger that you should be aware of. If you’ve been in an accident with someone you believe was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash, a personal injury attorney can help you pursue compensation in a court of law. Your attorney can investigate the situation fully by gathering police reports, witness statements, and other crucial evidence, so that you can seek the compensation you may be owed for:
- Hospital visits and other medical costs.
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation.
- Lost wages from time away from work.
- Loss of future earnings.
- Repair or replacement of your vehicle and other personal property.
You may also be able to seek compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other types of damages. In certain cases, you may be able to pursue exemplary damages, as well. Every drugged driving case is unique, so talk to your attorney about the specific damages you may be able to seek in your individual situation.
Get Help Today
If you’ve been injured or lost someone you love in a drugged driving accident, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have been standing up for the rights of those who have been hurt by drugged or intoxicated drivers, and we’re here to help your family get the justice you deserve in a court of law.
To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with a legal professional at Wayne Wright LLP, call us by phone, use our contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.