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Drugged Driving and Prescription Medication: A New Form of Driving Under the Influence

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With millions of Americans on prescription medication for a variety of ailments, it is no surprise that many of these individuals are operating motor vehicles while impaired by these same prescription medications. The mentality surrounding driving while impaired by prescription medications is not the same as that of someone who drinks or uses illicit drugs before deciding to drive. In fact, many people across the country take their “pills” before going on errands or reporting to work without a thought to how these prescription medications affect their system. What many do not know is that being impaired under the law, especially in Arizona, is the same regardless of what is causing the impairment.

The injury attorneys at Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm in Phoenix have significant experience in helping clients who have been victims of DUI accidents. If you need help filing a claim for one of these awful, life changing accidents, we are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. Our offices are conveniently located in Chandler, Peoria, and North Phoenix, and we can meet in-person or over the phone or video call.  You can contact us for a free consultation, or read on to find out more.

By the way, we will also help with other problems that have cost you sleep, like getting a rental car very soon and finding a nearby doctor or psychiatrist who can help get your life back on track. Even the best legal team isn’t good enough if your quality of life isn’t sustainable while justice and compensation are on the way. The whole point of legal action is to regain quality of life, so we help you long-term as attorneys and short-term as your go-to people. Our familiarity with the local Phoenix courts makes us confident that we can help you get the best settlement possible.

If you are unsure whether or not you can afford an attorney, don’t worry. We only get paid when you settle. Check out our Attorney Fees Calculator to find out more.

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Prescription Medication and Car Accidents

According to a report conducted by the Public Health Law Research program, drivers who have been involved in fatal crashes have increasingly been found to have prescription drugs in their system. The study showed that between 1993 and 2010, the number of drivers who have found to have three or more drugs in their system at the time of a fatal accident nearly doubled. By 2010, it was found that close to 1 in 5 drivers involved in fatal crashes were using multiple drugs.

What may be even more alarming is the passivity with which Americans are increasingly being issued prescription medication without giving a thought as to their potential side effects and their impact on the patient’s daily life. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, even small amounts of certain drugs can cause significant impairment of motor skills, balance, spatial orientation, reaction time, and judgment. Any impairment of one of these skills can make for very serious consequences behind the wheel of a car.

How Many Car Accidents Are Caused By Drugs?

According to the CDC, in 2016, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. That is around 1% of the 111 million cases of adults reporting themselves for driving under the influence in anonymous reports. That year, drugs other than alcohol were involved in about 16% of car accidents. That figure includes both legal drugs, like prescription medication and marijuana in Arizona (and other states), and illegal drugs like cocaine, heroine, or LSD.

It is estimated that around 13% of drivers on weeknights and weekends have marijuana in their system, with that number being slightly higher in states that have legalized recreational use. The CDC also states that marijuana users (who are driving while high) are about 25% more likely to get into a car accident than non-marijuana users, although other factors may increase or decrease that risk.

What Drugs Are Known to Impair Driving?

Many drugs can impair driving, including over the counter drugs, prescription medication, recreational drugs, and illegal drugs, and the list is far to long to include in this article. If you are taking prescription medication, check with your doctor to see if it is safe for you to drive.

Prescription medication can impair driving in many ways. Some prescription drugs may impair your judgement or induce nausea or drowsiness. Others can lessen your coordination ability. Even more have common side affects of dizziness, shakiness, or an irregular heartbeat.

Stronger prescription medication, like opioids, sedatives, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants have also been associated with a higher crash risk. To make it even more confusing, some prescription medication is perfectly fine to drive with when taken on its own, but if it’s taken in conjunction with other medication, drugs, or alcohol becomes an increased crash risk.

Driving While Impaired in Arizona: Drugged Driving

Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, and they apply equally to driving while impaired by illicit or legal drugs. In 2014, residents of the Phoenix area got reminded of the dangers of driving under the influence of prescription medication when a heavily medicated truck driver caused a fatal accident that took the life of one and injured five others.

According to police reports after the accident, the driver of the truck got a field sobriety test after the responding officer noticed that he had slurred speech, drooping eyelids, bloodshot eyes, and a low, raspy voice. After being unable to maintain balance and showing signs of impairment, the driver was tested for drug impairment. According to reports of the accident, the truck driver informed the officer that he took prescription muscle relaxants for back and shoulder pain and did not recall the events of the accident as he fell asleep at the wheel of his truck.

For More Information, Take a Look at These Articles

What are my rights as a drugged driving victim? 

Can I get paid for the pain and inconvenience that being in a prescription medication accident has put me through? 

In order to get my settlement, will I have to appear in civil or criminal court? 

What if the person who hit me has had more than one drugged driving offense? 

Why are drugged driving accidents one of the worst accidents to be in? 

How does the court calculate how much I’ll be paid for my drugged driving case? 

What happens if the drugged driver left the scene of the accident before giving their contact information? 

What are peripheral injuries in a prescription medication accident, and how can I prepare for them? 

What does it mean if I have a headache after my drugged driving accident? 

What are punitive damages, and what do they mean for my settlement? 

How much can I get paid for my drugged driving case? 

What does it mean if the at-fault driver in my accident was on prescription medication? 

What is the difference between drugged driving and drunk driving?

Get Help Now 

At Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm near you, we have more than 15 years of experience helping clients obtain compensation for their personal injuries from drugged driving accidents in the Phoenix area. When you’re ready to talk, please contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation by phone or at our Chandler office, conveniently located near you.

If you have been in a drugged driving accident, contact Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm in nearby Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. We provide personal injury legal services to clients in your area including Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Peoria.