Drunk and drugged drivers are breaking Georgia criminal laws when they get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or other substances affecting their ability to drive safely. These motorists face serious criminal charges, because criminal laws are designed to deter unsafe behavior that could lead to accidents. While many motorists recognize how dangerous drunk driving is and public education campaigns have been effective at reducing this behavior, risks of drugged driving crashes are largely underestimated. This helps to explain why the Washington Post warns drugged driving is now catching up to drunk driving in becoming a leading cause of fatal motor vehicle collisions.
If you are involved in a car crash and the other driver was drugged at the time of the incident, you could pursue a damage claim to recover monetary compensation. You can even make claims against motorists who used prescription medication or over-the-counter drugs, as well as against drivers who used illegal controlled substances. An Atlanta drugged driving accident lawyer can provide guidance, assistance, and advocacy as you pursue a claim for damages after you or someone you love was hurt or killed by a driver under the influence.
Drugged Driving is Becoming a Leading Reason for Atlanta Car Crashes
The Washington Post reported drugged drivers are becoming a menace on the nation's roadways. In 2005, just 29 percent of drivers who were killed in deadly motor vehicle accidents had drugs in their systems revealed by toxicology reports. By 2013, toxicology reports after deadly crashes showed 39.9 percent of drivers tested positive for having drugs in their systems following a fatal crash.
Marijuana is the drug most commonly identified in the blood of people who die in fatal car accidents. Marijuana use has been legalized in some form in 23 different states throughout the United States. Relaxing attitudes toward marijuana use are contributing to the higher risk of drugged driving crashes by cannabis users. As marijuana use becomes legal for medicine or recreation, people begin to accept its use more and motorists may be more inclined to use cannabis and then get behind the wheel.
The widespread change to marijuana laws is only part of the story when it comes to the increase in impaired driving accidents caused by drugged drivers. The Washington Post also indicated that the number of Americans using prescription drugs has quadrupled since 1999. Although prescription medications are given to patients by doctors, they can still have impairing effects that prevent motorists from being able to safely and effectively operate their vehicles.
Drunk driving crashes have dropped at the same time as drugged driving crashes have increased, so drugged drivers are now responsible for a significantly larger percentage of collisions with impaired drivers. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been very effective at publicizing drunk driving risks, and Cars.com reports the number of deadly DUIs has been cut in half since MADD's founding in 1980.
Drugged driving, on the other hand, is not considered by most motorists to be nearly as risky as drunk driving. Some respondents to focus groups in Washington state and Colorado even told researchers they thought they wee better drivers after using marijuana.
The bottom line is, marijuana does affect reflexes and cognitive judgment and drivers on drugs can and should be held accountable if their decision to drive impaired hurt you or someone you love.
Drivers who use alcohol present a danger to themselves and to others. Drunk driving is widely known to be among the most dangerous behaviors on the road and campaigns like Just Say No have been very helpful in reducing drunk driving. However, there are still thousands of deaths annually due to driver impairment.
While drunk driving deaths have declined dramatically, it is not only alcohol which causes motorists to be too impaired to drive safely. Medications, including prescription medications, can also prevent a driver from being able to operate his or her vehicle in a manner that is safe and that doesn't put everyone on the road at risk.
If you are involved in an accident and the driver was impaired by alcohol or impaired by other drugs, you should take appropriate legal action to make the impaired driver pay for damages. This is true regardless of the substance causing the impairment. An Atlanta drugged driving accident lawyer can help you to make your case to get compensation if a driver caused your crash due to alcohol or drug use.
Drugs Impair Drivers and Cause DUI Crashes
Lots of different kinds of drugs can impair motorists and cause them to become unsafe drivers. One of the most common types of prescription medications is often the cause of DUI crashes. The class of prescriptions resulting in a significant number of collisions is called benzodiazepines.
According to National Institute of Health, "benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressant drugs often detected in biological samples from driving under the influence (DUI) offenders. They are associated with marked psychomotor impairment.Xanax is an example of this type of drug. Another example is a medication called Alprazolam, which AL.com indicates is the most prescribed drug. More than 48.5 million prescriptions are written for this medication annually.
Because so many people take these medications and because they have a big impact on a person's ability to function, it should come as no surprise that there are a significant number of impaired driving cases arising from benzodiazepine use. In fact, both National Institute of Health and AL.com indicated a substantial number of DUIs are connected with benzodiazepine use and Al.com reported that statistics show benzodiazepines are the second most common reason for impaired driving charges in some locations.
This means, other than alcohol, more drivers have been found to be impaired by benzodiazepine drugs and have been charged with DUI because of it than are being charged due to marijuana use. This is true even as concerns mount that relaxing attitudes towards marijuana could increase risks of drugged driving.
Identifying drugged drivers can be harder for police than drunk drivers because there's no breathalyzer for benzodiazepine use and because police can't smell these drugs on a person like they can alcohol. Unfortunately, this means there could be many drivers impaired by these drugs who don't end up getting caught until they cause a collision and hurt someone. If you are harmed by a driver who causes a crash due to benzodiazepine use or due to the use of any prescription or non-prescription medications, it is important you get appropriate legal help to pursue a case against the driver who hurt you.