How common is drug-impaired driving?

Posted on February 16, 2024 in Car Accidents

Driving a car takes full awareness and control of faculties, and operating a motor vehicle is hard enough when other drivers act dangerously. Therefore, a driver should never be on the road when they are under the influence of any substance that can be intoxicating, whether it is drugs or alcohol. You may be entitled to a substantial settlement if an impaired driver has injured you in a car accident. First, you must contact an experienced car accident lawyer to fight for your legal rights.

Numerous drugs can impair drivers behind the wheel. Even if a substance like marijuana has now become legal, it does not mean that a driver can take it before driving or, worse, while they are behind the wheel. The same thing goes for prescription drugs – a person may be legally taking the drug, but they cannot take it before they drive. Alternatively, they may be illegally using a legal drug by abusing it.

Drugs that Can Impair Driving Ability

drug-impaired drivingHere are some of the drugs that drivers should not take when operating a car:

  • Marijuana
  • Opioids
  • Amphetamines
  • Painkillers
  • Benzodiazepines

In the past decade, many states throughout the United States have legalized marijuana, and other jurisdictions have reduced their efforts to prosecute the use of cannabis. In addition, opioid usage throughout the country shows no sign whatsoever of declining.

Authorities Do Not Know Exact Rates of Drug-Impaired Driving

Authorities tend to know exact statistics about how many deaths have been caused by drunk driving, and the number of alcohol-related fatalities is approximately 10,000 each year.

However, much remains unknown about the prevalence of driving while high, and there is only a wide range of estimates for road fatalities involving illegal drugs.

Why There Are Not Precise Statistics About Drug-Impaired Driving

First, it is unknown how many of the alcohol-related fatalities also involved drugs. Many people have both drugs and alcohol in their systems at the time of a severe crash, and the presence of drugs can exacerbate the effects of alcohol and vice versa.

Second, law enforcement does not always test specifically for drugs at the time of a fatal crash. They will undoubtedly test for alcohol, but by the time they order a test for drugs, it may be out of the driver’s system.

Third, law enforcement does not publish statistics about driving high the same as they do figures that relate to drunk driving. Many of the statistics about drugs and drivers rely on what drivers report when they complete a survey. For example, there are roughly 50 million Americans who use marijuana, and only around five million of these people admit to driving while under the influence. Most of these surveys understate the problem because a driver may not want to admit to someone else that they drive while high, even when they are not afraid of the consequences.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Is Increasing

Before the pandemic, dangerous behaviors among motorists, such as drunk and drugged driving, were on the decline. However, the pandemic unleashed a spate of reckless conduct, including a spike in drugged and drunk driving, and recently, the rate of drugged driving has increased.

Overall, there is less respect for traffic laws in society. Whether it is selfishness or the thought that nothing will go wrong when driving high, drivers are likelier to break the law than they were in the past.

Younger Motorists Are More Likely to Drive High

Younger drivers are more likely to drive a vehicle while high because they are more likely to use drugs in general. Then, they may exhibit poor decision-making skills and take greater risks.

The worst demographic for drugged driving is adults aged 21 to 25, where more than 15 percent of these drivers admit to getting behind the wheel when they are high. Some studies say that as many as one in four teen drivers (age 16 to 20)  have admitted to driving drunk or high.

Studies show that the dangers of drugged driving are the highest at night. Of course, this is when most drivers are more likely to be using illegal drugs. The effects of illicit drugs, combined with the inherent dangers of driving at night, make things even more dangerous. In the mid-2000s, the number of weekend nighttime drivers who tested positive for tetrahydrocannabinol increased by 48 percent.

Drugged Driving is a Problem Among Commercial Drivers

In recent years, the issue of drugged driving has gained attention as a significant problem among commercial drivers. When we think of impaired driving, alcohol often comes to mind, but the use of illicit drugs and prescription medications among commercial drivers is a growing concern.

Driving under the influence of drugs is especially worrisome when it comes to commercial drivers who are responsible for transporting goods, passengers, and operating large vehicles. Even a momentary lapse in attention due to drug use can have catastrophic consequences not only for the driver but also for innocent road users.

Drugged Driving Is As Dangerous As Drunk Driving

Many people have the perception that drunk driving is the most dangerous and do not associate drug use with drunk driving. There have not been as many awareness campaigns aimed at stopping driving high. Thus, people may think that they can both get away with driving under the influence of drugs and that it is not that dangerous.

Drugged drivers pose a danger to themselves and others on the road. Within the past ten years, 42 percent of fatally injured motorists had illegal narcotics in their system.

How Marijuana Makes Drivers More Dangerous

Marijuana can have several adverse effects on drivers. Here are the ways that drugs can make a driver more dangerous:

  • It causes drivers to lose short-term memory.
  • It alters perceptions among drivers.
  • It slows down reaction times.
  • It makes drivers more likely to make poor decisions.
  • It decreases coordination.
  • It affects a driver’s depth perception.

Methamphetamine Makes Drivers More Aggressive

Other types of drugs will have different effects on drivers. While marijuana may have a dulling and distorting impact on drivers, cocaine and methamphetamines can do the opposite. These drugs may make a driver much more aggressive and reckless, acting in ways that closely resemble road rage. They may weave in and out of lanes, tailgate too closely behind other vehicles, and exceed the speed limit.

Financial Compensation After a Drugged Driving Accident

If you have been in an accident with another driver who was high at the time of the crash, you may be entitled to substantial financial compensation. Although you do not necessarily have to demonstrate that they were on drugs at the time of the accident, it will be helpful to your legal case if you can obtain evidence that there were illegal drugs in their system.

First, you must show that the other driver was negligent in your accident. Although drugs can make other drivers more unsafe, the fact that they were high is not automatically the cause of the accident. Theoretically, it is still possible for you to be blamed for the car accident, even if the other driver was on drugs. If the other driver was at fault, the insurance company may claim you were also partially to blame for the accident and reduce your compensation.

The Insurance Company Has Reasons to Be Afraid of You

If there is any close call about liability, the fact that the other driver was on drugs can tip the scales. Insurance companies may not want to go to court on issues of liability when they will have to acknowledge that their driver was on drugs. If anything, the other driver’s drug test can strengthen your legal case.

Second, the other driver’s drug test can discourage the insurance company from taking a harder line on financial compensation. Insurance companies may not want to face a jury when they know that reasonable people may want to throw the book at them when a drugged driver is involved in the crash.

Even though punitive damages are rare in any car crash, they are more frequent when there is a drunk or drugged driver involved in the accident, and the jury may react harshly to reckless and selfish behavior. Insurance companies also know punitive damages are possible and want to avoid the prospect. Thus, they may be more motivated to settle a case rather than try to save money.

How an Attorney Can Help You in a Drugged Driving Case

Drugged Driving CaseIf you have suffered an injury in an accident with any driver, you need to get legal representation immediately. Your attorney will do the following for your car accident case:

  • Investigate your car accident and gather evidence proving the other driver was liable
  • Subpoena results for drug tests from other drivers (law enforcement or a hospital will not simply share the results of the test with you – an attorney will need to go through the courts to get the test results)
  • Estimate the value of your damages by reviewing the specific facts of your situation
  • Prepare an insurance claim or lawsuit to file on your behalf
  • Deal with the other driver’s insurance company (you will need to go through it whether you have filed a claim or a lawsuit)
  • Negotiate a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company
  • Take your case to court and try it in front of a jury if you cannot reach a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company

You Can Hold Out for the Money That You Deserve

You need to get enough compensation for your car accident injuries. First, you will file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company if they were to blame for the car accident. If they do not have enough coverage for all your damages, you must file a claim against your policy (assuming you have underinsured motorist coverage).

Suppose the insurance company has not offered you enough compensation. In that case, you can and should reject the settlement offer because your legal right is to total compensation for your car accident injuries. An attorney can advise you through this process and negotiate with the insurance company until it offers a fair settlement.

You have far more leverage than you think when you hire an experienced attorney to fight on your behalf. When a driver is drugged, it should be the insurance companies who fear you and not the other way around. You should not let them off the hook before making them pay you every dollar you deserve in financial compensation.

You Do Not Have to Pay Out of Pocket for a Car Accident Attorney

It does not cost you anything from your bank account to get the lawyer on your side who will do battle with the insurance company. When you hire a car accident lawyer, you will sign a representation agreement that promises to pay them a contingency fee if and when you win your case. This fee comes straight from the proceeds of your settlement or award, so you do not have to write a check to your lawyer for their time and services, whether you win or lose your case. Your initial consultation is free, and you will never receive a bill for legal services during your case.

Consult a Car Accident Lawyer Today

Matt Boatman Attorney for Car Accident

Matthew R. Boatman, Car Accident Lawyer

The aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming, with medical bills piling up and insurance companies pressuring you to settle quickly. That’s where a car accident lawyer comes in. They have a deep understanding of personal injury law and can help you navigate the complexities of your case.

By retaining a car accident lawyer, you’ll have an advocate on your side who will fight for the compensation you deserve. They will gather evidence, interview witnesses, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. This will allow you to focus on your recovery without the stress of dealing with legal matters.

Don’t wait any longer. Consult a personal injury lawyer today and get the support you need to move forward. Remember, time is of the essence, so don’t delay in seeking legal guidance.