If you see someone veering all over the road, you likely assume they’re drunk, but there’s a good chance the driver’s impairment is at least partially due to drug use. As drug and alcohol use grows, our roads are becoming more dangerous.
In this article, Andy Citrin explains the drugged driving problem, and what you should do after a car accident with an impaired driver.
Drugged Drivers Cause More Than 43% of Fatal Crashes
Like the rest of the country, Alabama is in the middle of a drug epidemic. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 43.6% of the drivers who underwent drug testing after a fatal crash had positive results. More than 50% of them tested positive for two or more drugs, and 40.7% were also drunk. Marijuana and opioids were the most commonly identified drugs.
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Similarly, in the most recent National Roadside Survey, performed in 2013 and 2014, roughly 22% of all drivers tested positive for either drugs or alcohol on weekend nights — 8.3% of the drivers tested positive for alcohol and 15.2% had used illegal drugs. Unlike the GHSA data, which only reviewed fatal crash reports, this survey involved randomly stopping drivers at 300 different locations across the United States.
Alabama Drunk and Drugged Drivers Face Both Civil and Criminal Penalties
Under Alabama law, it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a 0.08% blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) or higher. Commercial drivers must be under a 0.04% BAC, and the legal limit for people under the age of 21 is 0.02%. However, the state does not have a “zero tolerance” law against drugged driving. Instead, the state bans driving when your use of drugs or alcohol makes it unsafe.
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When someone is arrested for drunk or drugged driving, they typically face criminal charges. If convicted, the driver may face jail time, mandatory substance abuse treatment, loss of their driver’s license, and other penalties. While these criminal cases are an important part of holding the at-fault driver accountable, they don’t compensate the victims for their injuries.
To get compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and other damages resulting from an intoxicated driver, you’ll need to file a civil lawsuit. The prosecutor cannot file this claim for you, which means you’ll need to consult with a personal injury attorney instead.
Demand Justice After a Drunk or Drugged Driving Accident
When you suspect a driver is drunk or on drugs, make sure you report your concerns to law enforcement officials immediately. If there are other witnesses that saw the drivers’ behavior, you should get their contact information as well. These early steps can help you document the driver’s impairment and may serve as valuable evidence in your personal injury claim.
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Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to prove that a negligent motorist was driving under the influence. While Alabama sets strict BAC levels that help us identify when a driver is drunk, there isn’t a similar standard for drug use. The problem is the human body processes drugs like heroin, oxycodone, and marijuana differently. And when you add alcohol to the mix, it can accentuate the level of intoxication.
In a drugged driving case, you can’t just rely on a blood test or toxicology report. Instead, you’ll need to do a careful investigation that uncovers why the driver couldn’t safely operate their vehicle. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your claim, your lawyer may use:
- Drug tests and toxicology reports
- Police reports and 911 call recordings
- Dash cam and other footage from the crash scene
- Witnesses that can testify about the driver’s activities before and during the crash
- Receipts, bar tabs, and other documentation that demonstrates their alcohol consumption
- Social media posts that suggest drug or alcohol consumption immediately before the accident
- The driver’s own testimony from depositions and at trial
- Testimony from doctors and other expert witnesses
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we have built a reputation for our detailed investigations and aggressive advocacy on behalf of our clients. We want to hold drunk and drugged drivers accountable for their actions because it helps the victims rebuild their lives and makes Alabama a safer place.
A Quick Settlement Isn’t Always in a Drunk or Drugged Driving Victims’ Best Interests
Sometimes, insurance companies will offer a quick settlement after a drunk or drugged driving accident. While this initial offer may seem generous at first glance, it will rarely (if ever) fully compensate you for your losses.
First of all, it’s hard to calculate a crash victim’s damages immediately after a car accident. You may not fully know the extent of your injuries, since some conditions take time to develop and identify. And because everyone’s body heals differently, it’s also hard to estimate your ability to return to work and the cost of your future medical needs early on. Unfortunately, once you accept a settlement, you typically can’t go back to demand more money — even if your conditions worsen.
Sometimes, taking a case to trial is in your best interest. At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we’ve successfully tried cases that resulted in game-changing legal decisions that didn’t just ensure our clients’ financial security but also made Alabama a safer place to live and drive.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: We Fight For a Safer Alabama
After a drunk or drugged driving accident, you and your loved ones will have a lot of questions. The personal injury lawyers at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys would love to help get you the answers and compensation you deserve. To request a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 251-888-8888.
Governors Highway Safety Association (2018, May). Drug-Impaired Driving: Marijuana and Opioids Raise Critical Issues for States. Author: Washington, D.C. Retrieved from https://www.ghsa.org/sites/default/files/2018-05/GHSA_DrugImpairedDriving_FINAL.pdf
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (2014, April). Drugs and human performance fact sheets. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/809725-drugshumanperformfs.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.