When talking about DUIs most people think only about driving while under the influence of alcohol. However, driving under the influence of drugs, whether legal or illegal, can have the same devastating consequences. In the most recent report provided by the New York DMV, it shows that 640 accidents happened in 2013 due to illegal drug involvement, and another 366 accidents involved legal, prescription medications.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an accident involving a driver under the influence of drugs, you don’t have to go through this alone. Let the caring attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. help you navigate through this difficult time.
Driving Under The Influence Of Drugs
Regardless of whether a drug is legal or illegal, all drugs affect people in different ways. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and sedatives have serious effects on drivers.
According to the Institute’s studies, marijuana has been shown to:
- Slow reaction times in drivers
- Impair the driver’s judgment with respect to time and distance, which may increase accident risk
- Reduce motor coordination, which may cause the driver to weave in and out of lanes and into oncoming traffic.
The Institute’s studies have also determined that use of cocaine while driving can lead to aggressive and reckless behavior behind the wheel. On the flip side of that coin, use of sedatives such as benzodiazepines cause drowsiness, which can be just as dangerous for drivers.
A nationwide study of fatal car accidents in 2010 found that 46.5% of drivers who tested positive for drugs had used a prescription drug. The most common prescription drugs involved in auto accidents are:
- Xanax 12.1%
- Vicodin 11.1%
- OxyContin 10.2%
- Valium 8.4%
New York Drugged Driving Laws
New York has very stringent laws pertaining to drugged driving. New York law states that persons are guilty of drugged driving if they operate a motor vehicle while their ability to operate the vehicle is impaired by the use of a drug, or they are impaired by the combined use of drugs and alcohol. A first offense is considered a misdemeanor, while all future offenses are considered felonies, punishable by fines, license revocation, and imprisonment.
In order to prove that someone has been driving while under the influence of drugs, the following four elements must be proven:
- The driver ingested a drug;
- The ingested drug was one prohibited by the NY Health Code;
- The driver operated an automobile after ingesting the drug; and
- The driver’s ability to operate the automobile was impaired while operating the automobile.
Any individual that operates a motor vehicle in New York has impliedly consented to a blood, breath, urine, or saliva test to determine intoxication. If a person refuses to submit to a test, such refusal is admissible in court, and the individual’s driver’s license can be suspended for at least one year.
Injuries And Fatalities Caused By Driving Under The Influence of Drugs
Of the 1,006 accidents caused by driving under the influence of drugs in 2013 in New York, 11 people were killed and 553 people were injured; and this is not just a problem in New York.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 22% of drivers tested positive for drugs, including illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter drugs. These numbers make it obvious that driving under the influence of drugs is dangerous for the driver, passengers, and others on the road.
Due to the fact that drivers who are under the influence of drugs often have slowed response times and diminished judgment and motor skills, accidents can happen at very high speeds. High-speed accidents can cause a wide range of injuries including:
- Soft tissue injuries – such as sprains and strains of muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
- Scrapes and cuts – flying objects and hard surfaces can cause deep lacerations that require stitches.
- Head injuries – can range from mild concussions to serious brain injury.
- Chest injuries – can be as mild as cuts and bruises, but can also include broken ribs and internal bleeding.
- Arm and Leg injuries – depending on the position of an individual in the vehicle and the type of impact, limbs can be crushed and broken.
Any injury can be life changing, and the trauma of being in an accident can be debilitating. You don’t have to do this alone. The experienced team of DUI attorneys at Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. have a skilled network of experts to help determine the value of your claim and help fight for your rights. We have a proven track record of success in doing just that for thousands of other clients. Contact us today at 1-888-575-6410 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. We will fight for you!