CA Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities Improve while Drug-Impaired Driving Deaths Rise

October 20, 2015 | Category: Car Accidents

Thanks to the good work of any number of organizations, virtually all drivers know the dangers of drinking and driving. Perhaps a more educated public has contributed to better driving habits because the most recent California Office of Traffic Safety statistics show that the state's alcohol-impaired driving fatality rate has stabilized. In fact, that rate is now well below the national average.

Whatever the reason for the improvement, each Los Angeles car accident attorney at our firm applauds the reduction in fatalities caused by drinking and driving in our state. Unfortunately, the statistics also indicate that the 29 percent of all drivers who died in motor vehicle crashes tested positive for legal or illegal drugs. That number has been rising steadily since 2006. Clearly, drivers still have more to learn about drugs and driving.

Many Legal Drugs Can Impair Your Ability to Drive

Many individuals who use illegal drugs do so because of the drugs’ mind-altering properties. Since an altered mind creates a lack of judgment or even a hallucinogenic experience, it is easy to understand why drivers should not get behind the wheel in this condition. Unfortunately, in spite of package warnings, legal drugs can lead to impaired driving as well.

Whether prescribed by a physician or purchased over-the-counter, any number of legal drugs can have unanticipated effects that alter the ability to drive. The following is a list of some of the most common drugs that fall into this category:

Sleeping pills do not necessarily wear off completely by morning. Anyone who has to drive to work early the next morning may still be drowsy.
Cold medicines and antihistamines may help reduce congestion and other symptoms, but many of these medications also cause drowsiness.
Pain killers sold over the counter, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen and others, are generally safe for use while driving. However, prescription pain killers often contain hydrocodone or other powerful medications that can have a profound effect on the ability to drive safely.
Medical marijuana is no safer for driving than its illegal counterpart — and its use does not provide a valid legal defense in the event of an accident or a routine police traffic stop.

Too many drivers fail to heed drug warnings printed on the products they take. Others believe they know when it is safe to drive. The best approach is to err on the side of caution. Read all warnings with every refill, and do not drive without first obtaining guidelines from a doctor.

Proving Liability for a Drugged Driving Accident Poses Certain Challenges

In the event of an accident, police routinely ask permission to conduct blood alcohol breath tests when they suspect alcohol-impaired driving. However, this type of test only analyzes the level of alcohol. Police do not typically conduct blood tests, which can reveal the presence of other drugs.

Anyone who notices even slight signs of drowsiness or inattention by drivers involved in their car accident should seek immediate legal support. Our Los Angeles auto accident lawyers conduct thorough investigations into the details behind their clients' car accidents, but there is a limited window of opportunity for obtaining medical evidence of drug use.

The Rudman Law Firm, APC performs initial case evaluations free of charge. To learn the next steps for your car accident claim, call us toll free at (844) 478-3626 / (844) 4RUDMAN, at our Los Angeles office (213) 375-3777 or at our Studio City office (818) 769-6969. You can also use our convenient online contact form to reach us at any time.

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