A recent major survey found that in 2016, 11.8 million people 16 years of age or older were guilty of drugged driving. The problem with drugged driving – defined as operating a vehicle while impaired by a prescription drug or illicit drug – is that it can lead to car accidents and personal injury claims.
In fact, a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility found that in 2015, 43 percent of drivers who died in car accidents had positive tests for drugs, versus 37 percent who tested positive for alcohol. Fetterman Law & Associates believes that it’s important you understand the dangers of drugged driving to better protect yourself from an accident that can lead to a personal injury case.
Drug-impaired driving is challenging to regulate, because there are hundreds of different drugs that can cause impairment, and many of these drugs are legal, which means that with alcohol, state officials can’t keep those drugs off the streets.
Worse yet, while studies on how alcohol affects drivers have arrived at some common conclusions, studies on drug impairment have not reached a consensus. The reason is that people react differently to different drugs, so it’s hard to predict how drivers who use drugs will react when they are behind the wheel.
For example, some people can smoke marijuana for several hours and drive without any sign of impairment, while others who do the same thing will show obvious signs of impairment.
The other problem is that marijuana is one of the most common drugs people use before they drive. The challenge, however, is that states have no established a standard for what amount of marijuana in a driver’s blood constitutes impairment.
Police officers who pull over a driver on suspicion of being impaired and discover the driver may be impaired by marijuana must perform the standardized sobriety test for alcohol. However, alcohol impairment and drug impairment are not an apples-to-apples comparison, making it difficult for officers to know how much marijuana contributed to a person’s impairment. Some states have adopted what is known as ‘presumed’ impairment using a blood test that measures the amount of THC (the main chemical in cannabis), and comparing it to a chart.
But even that method is not accepted by many courts in the U.S., and while scientists are working on a standardized blood and breath test for marijuana, it is still years away.
If a driver impaired by prescription drugs or illicit drugs caused your personal injury claim, and you don’t feel as if you are getting the proper consideration from the other party’s insurance company, it’s important that you hire an experienced law firm to represent you. Experience and prior success are two big indicators that a firm can handle complex cases. Please contact Fetterman & Associates at 561-845-2510 to schedule a case evaluation.
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