A recent USA Today report quoted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as stating there has been a steady uptick in the number of traffic fatalities – including those in which one or more of the drivers involved tested positive for having marijuana or other illicit drugs in their blood at the time of the crash. As disturbing as this trend is, one does not have to use an illegal substance to be guilty of “driving while drugged.” Even over-the-counter and prescription medications can lead to traffic crashes that maim or kill other motorists. When this occurs, victims and surviving family members must be prepared to uncover the identity of the drug consumed by the at-fault motorist and prove that even those drugs meant to help can cause harm if taken before driving.
What To Do After a Suspected Drugged Driving Case
Drugged drivers often exhibit the same or similar symptoms as a driver who is under the influence of alcohol: drowsy, difficulty in maintaining balance and coordination, impaired judgment, and slow reflexes. They may swerve within their lane of travel, cross over multiple lanes, leave the road, or drive erratically when they are behind the wheel. The difference between an alcohol-impaired driver and a drug-impaired driver will be the absence of the odor of alcohol.
One of the best pieces of evidence that can be used to establish liability for a car accident when it is suspected that the driver used drugs prior to getting behind the wheel is the results of any blood tests performed by the hospital or law enforcement on the suspected drugged driver. These results are easily lost if it is not promptly and appropriately requested that they be saved and preserved. Your California car accident lawyer knows how to take this simple yet vital step.
Few Defenses in Drugged Driving Cases
Some drivers believe that because they were taking a “legal” over-the-counter or prescription medication that they are not liable for any car crash that occurred as the result of their use of the drug. This is patently false – even simply Tylenol or other over-the-counter drugs (not to mention prescription drugs) can result in liability for a car crash if the medication impaired the at-fault driver and that impairment led to the crash. The judge or jury will need to take into account any argument by the at-fault driver that he or she did not know how the medication would have impacted his or her ability to drive when determining the damages attributable to the at-fault driver.