What You Should Know about Drugged Driving Accidents
To drive safely, drivers must be fully alert and focused. Thousands of unnecessary collisions happen every year because drivers get behind the wheel while they are impaired with drugs or alcohol. A drugged driving accident is when a crash occurs because the driver was impaired from the effects of recent drug use. After alcohol, marijuana is the most commonly found substance in drivers’ blood after they are involved in a crash. The bottom line is that drugged driving endangers the driver, their passengers, and other vehicles and pedestrians on the road.
How do drugs affect driving ability?
Different drugs affect us differently and different people may react differently to the same drug, but in general:
- Marijuana can slow reaction times, decrease coordination and the ability to judge speed and distance. This can lead to weaving in and out of lanes or turning in front of a vehicle that is too close to clear.
- Cocaine and other methamphetamines can cause aggressive and reckless driving such as excessive speeding and tailgating.
- Prescription medicines, including opioids and benzodiazepines, can cause dizziness and drowsiness and impair judgment. Some studies have found that drivers under the influence of opioids are doubling the risk for a car crash.
All of these effects – either individually or in combination with alcohol – are very dangerous and likely increase the risk of a motor vehicle accident. Unfortunately, it is common for drivers who drive drugged to also consume alcohol – making it difficult for researchers to fully understand the effects of any particular drug on its own. Researchers agree that more research is needed to determine the effects of different types of drugs on their own, separate from alcohol.
Drugged driving laws
Some states have laws against drugged driving, which means a driver can be charged for driving under the influence (DUI) if they are found to have drugs in their blood or urine.
Washington State drugged driving law RCW 46.61.502 says that “a person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state:
(a) And the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
(b) The person has, within two hours after driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
(c) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug; or
(d) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, and any drug.
(2) The fact that a person charged with a violation of this section is or has been entitled to use a drug under the laws of this state shall not constitute a defense against a charge of violating this section.”
Drugged driving accident statistics
The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that:
- 6 million people drove under the influence of illicit drugs in the last year.
- Men are more likely than women to get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The age group most likely to engage in drugged driving are those between 21-25.
According to FARS data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, 19.7 percent of drivers who had taken drugs and drove tested positive for some type of opioid.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 43.6 percent of drivers who were fatally injured in crashes in 2016 tested positive for drugs and over half of those drivers had two or more drugs in their system.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!