A recent study by researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that a worrying number of drivers have driven motor vehicles while under the influence of drugs. According to the data, one in five drivers used marijuana before taking the wheel. Being under the influence of drugs severely affects coordination, decision-making, and reaction time, all of which are essential to safe driving.
Marijuana isn’t the only drug that poses a threat on the streets. Opioids, methamphetamines, cocaine, and tranquilizers are changing driving and are widely used. For these reasons, drivers, passengers and pedestrians need to be aware of the increase in drug use among motorists and what to do if they are injured in a drug accident.
How do drugs affect the body?
In 2018, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) analyzed data from fatal motor vehicle accidents and found that nearly 44 percent of drivers who died tested positive for drugs. That number rose 29 percent from a decade earlier. Drugs act on the body in the following ways:
Marijuana: Marijuana affects judgment, slows reaction time, and can alter judgment and memory.
Opiates: Morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and other opiates and opioids relieve pain and create a feeling of euphoria. Opiates also cause confusion and drowsiness.
Sedatives: Used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, prescription sedatives slow down brain activity and breathing, alter depth perception, and impair cognition.
Cocaine: Cocaine makes users feel alert and energetic, but these temporary feelings lead to paranoia, anger, and extreme sensitivity to touch, light, and sound.
Methamphetamines: People use methamphetamines for an instant rush of confidence and energy, but it has serious side effects including paranoia, hallucinations, and convulsions.
The side effects of drugs affect the ability to drive safely. When drugs are mixed with alcohol, the effects can be even more extreme.
Why is drug use increasing?
There are a few reasons drug driving is increasing in the United States:
Legalization of marijuana
The shift in attitudes towards marijuana use appears to be fueling the increase in road traffic violations and car accidents. Every year more states are decriminalizing marijuana and legalizing it for medical and recreational use. Because it is more accessible and acceptable, drivers are more likely to assume that it is safe to drive, but it is not.
Opioids are a group of drugs that are used to prevent pain under the guidance of a doctor. However, they are also highly addictive, and when patients run out of prescription opioids they often turn to heroin. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health (HHS) declared the U.S. opioid crisis a public health emergency. Because these drugs are prescribed by a health care provider, patients often think it is okay to use and drive them. However, driving under the influence of a drug is dangerous.
Imperfect drug tests
Unlike handheld breathalyzer devices that are used to test a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC), accurate tests to determine if a person has taken medication are not readily available right now. Drug testing is an incomplete science because even if a blood, saliva, or urine test confirms drug use, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a driver has been affected while driving. Some drugs stay in a person’s system for hours or days after consumption. In addition, much is still unknown about how many over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs affect drivers. Until the drug tests are perfected, police and other first responders must rely on eyewitness observation, sobriety tests, and other methods to determine if a driver is impaired.
What are the penalties for drug driving in Pennsylvania?
It is illegal in Pennsylvania to operate a moving vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance. There is no tolerance for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Anyone who does this can be arrested and potentially convicted if traces of certain controlled substances are found in the blood or if a driver is affected by drugs or alcohol.
Compared to milder laws in other states, Pennsylvania only requires a police officer to have reasoned suspicion of impairment. Anyone suspected of being affected by legal or prescribed medication can be charged with illegal driving while under the influence of drugs.
Driving under the influence of drug sentences in Pennsylvania depends on how many crimes the driver has been convicted of. An initial conviction results in up to six months’ imprisonment, fines between $ 1,000 and $ 5,000, and a one-year license suspension. Each additional crime carries with it higher fines and more prison sentences. Some offenders also have to go through mandatory drug and alcohol treatment.
What should i do if i am hit by a disabled driver?
After every car accident, it is important to call for help immediately. As soon as the police arrive, calmly and truthfully explain exactly what happened. Always mention whether the other driver appeared to be impaired or was driving in any way erratic that led to the accident.
It is at the discretion of the on-site officer to ask the driver to submit a breathalyzer, blood or urine test. Pennsylvania tacit consent law states that every driver in the state has given consent to blood or breath tests. However, random traffic stop tests are not allowed. The law only applies to drivers who are suspected of operating a vehicle under the influence. Refusal to be tested results in a 12 month license suspension.
Filing a personal injury claim for a drug accident
In any case, drug-driving complaints are filed first. A lawyer can use the evidence gathered by the police to build their case. Signs of impairment are strong and may be supported by other evidence of negligence, such as: B. if the driver has a stop sign or has fled the scene.
Following an accident, anyone who has been injured should carefully keep all evidence related to the case, such as medical reports, prescriptions, and physical therapy bills. These records confirm the extent of a person’s injuries and how the injuries have affected their daily lives. Head, neck, spinal disorders, amputations and other catastrophic injuries can mean that victims can no longer work, earn income or keep their loved ones company.
Drug-driving cases are one of the more complex types of personal injury in Pennsylvania. Evidence of impairment is not an easy task, but it is essential. Linking the reckless acts of a drugged driver to a collision is key to achieving justice and compensation for a victim’s pain, medical bills, and lost wages.
In contrast to drunk driver accidents where it is suspected that a driver with a BAC above the legal limit was impaired, the same presumption cannot be made for legal and illegal drugs. Because of this, it’s important to hire the right drug accident attorney. It takes a knowledgeable and determined auto accident attorney to make a strong claim, show liability, and prove that an injured victim deserves compensation for lost money.
The Philadelphia auto accident attorneys at McCann & Wall, LLC provide qualified and exceptional legal advice to drug accident victims
Statistics show that drug-driving is much more common than it was a decade ago. Drug driving puts everyone on the road at risk. If you are a victim of a drug collision, a Philadelphia auto accident attorney at McCann & Wall, LLC can help with your case. We have extensive experience in dealing with major auto accident claims and our team is ready to serve you. Call 215-515-7644 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, and we serve customers across the area.
Visit https://www.mccannwallinjurylaw.com/ for more information.