When you think of car accidents caused by drugs, your mind may immediately jump to drivers who use cocaine, methamphetamine or other illegal drugs. You might not think about over-the-counter or prescription medications, but these powerful drugs can also cause motorist impairment and cause an auto accident.
While law enforcement officials devote significant resources to reduce the numbers of people who drive under the influence of alcohol, drugged driving has not received the same level of attention. This is despite the fact that a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey revealed that more than 16 percent of weekend, night-time drivers tested positive for at least one illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drug.
Understand Common Drug Impairments
Illegal, prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause effects that can impair a person’s ability to drive. Ranging from mild side effects to severe, mind-altering impacts, these changes in mood and behavior can contribute to car accidents.
Among the most common impairments observed in drugged driving cases are:
Memory loss. A drug can limit a person’s ability to draw information from previous experiences, potentially increasing the risk of confusion or risk-taking behavior.
Loss of coordination. People under the influence of drugs may be physically unable to operate a motor vehicle safely.
Loss of judgment. Drugs often affect a person’s decision making abilities.
Altered perception. Hallucinations or distortions of distance, time and speed carry obvious risks on roadways, both to the safety of a driver and other motorists.
Anxiety. Extreme anxiousness or paranoia can make it impossible for a motorist to responsibly operate a vehicle.
Euphoria. Feelings of overconfidence, fearlessness or delirium often accompany drug use. These feelings can lead a person to make irresponsible decisions behind the wheel
Drowsiness or lethargy. Alertness is vital when driving a motor vehicle. If a person is drowsy or lethargic, he or she is likely to have longer response time to traffic events, endangering other motorists.
In a worst-case scenario, a driver may simply fall asleep or otherwise be rendered unresponsive by the effects of a drug. In these situations, a vehicle in essence becomes an unguided missile on the roadway, primed to catastrophically harm other motorists.
Get Justice After An Accident Caused By Drugs
If you or a loved one has been harmed in an accident caused by drugs, or a crash in which you were hit by a drunk driver, personal injury law may allow you to pursue compensation for injuries, property damage and lost wages. This can be the case whether illicit, over-the-counter or prescription drugs — or a combination thereof — caused a driver’s impairment.
An experienced attorney can help prove that a motorist took an illegal substance, misused a legally prescribed medication or failed to heed driving restrictions listed on the label of an over-the-counter product. This legal advocate will seek fair compensation on your behalf, serving as a go-to source of information throughout the personal injury process.