You’ve probably learned the dangers of drunk driving at some point in your life, right? Special assemblies at school, public service announcements, highway signs put up by law enforcement: they all reinforce that drunk driving is dangerous. What’s less common in these discussions is “drugged” driving. These types of cases are not talked about as much as drunk driving cases, but it is important to know that they do frequently happen. In fact, many times, drugged driving accidents are more dangerous than drunk driving accidents.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, drugged driving is defined as “driving a vehicle while impaired due to intoxicating effects of recent drug use.” Drugged driving and drunk driving are very similar as they both slow down your reactions, ability to make decisions, remain alert behind the wheel, and ability to problem solve. As a result, drugged driving not only places the driver at risk of being injured in an accident, but it also puts their passengers as well as other drivers and those who are on the road in harm’s way.
Drugged driving is 100 percent preventable as every single person who drives under the influence of drugs makes the choice to get behind the wheel after or while taking a drug. The National Institute of Drug Abuse stated that close to 13 million people over the age of 16 drove while under the influence of drugs in 2018, which is extremely alarming.
Which controlled substances are commonly to blame for impaired driving?
While alcohol is currently the number one reason for car crashes caused by intoxicated driving, marijuana is the most common drug found in the system of those that cause accidents and collisions. Here is a list of the types of drugs that are frequently involved in car accidents:
- Prescription drugs
The most common prescription drugs found in drugged driving accidents
Prescription drugs are also one of the most common types of drugs that are connected to drugged driving accidents. While some drivers may claim that they were prescribed certain medications and are legally allowed to have the drugs, there is a good chance that their prescription bottle explains that they should not operate a vehicle while taking the medication. There are specific reasons for this, which almost every doctor or pharmacist goes over with their patients before prescribing them. The following are a few of the most common prescription drugs found in drugged driving accidents:
- Sleeping pills
- Pain medicine
- Allergy medicine
- Anxiety medicine
- Mental health medicine
- Heart and blood pressure pills
Even though people need prescriptions to get by and live their daily lives, many prescription medications have side effects that cause dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, and cognitive impairment. If a prescription medication label has any negative side effects, it will most likely explain that you cannot operate a machine or vehicle due to the possibility of you wrecking, falling asleep behind the wheel, or causing an accident.
How do you prove that a Kansas City driver was under the influence of drugs?
If you are involved in a car accident and the responding law enforcement officers believe that the other driver is under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident, they will most likely ask the driver to take a drug test. You may also be able to tell the officer that you think drugs were involved, which could persuade them to demand the other driver take a drug test. However, it is common for drugged drivers to claim that they did the drugs days before the accident as drugs can remain in the body “for days or even weeks.” The driver may try to imply that they were actually sober when the accident occurred.
Urine and blood tests are the only ways to test for the presence of drugs in a person’s system. Blood tests are better than urine tests because they have the ability to detect the “drug compounds themselves rather than their metabolites.” In addition, blood testing can detect any drug substances that a person takes within two to 12 hours before the test.
However, regardless of what type of test is given and what excuse the drugged driver tries to claim, a positive drug test is a key piece of evidence that will help you prove that drugs were likely a factor in your car accident. Other types of evidence that you may want to collect in addition to persuade the insurance companies or jury include:
- Eyewitness testimonies
- Expert witness opinions and statements
- Videos or surveillance footage
- Any documentation showing the individual’s history with drugs (past drug charges, criminal history, other DUI instances)
- Drugs found in the vehicle or on the driver at the accident scene
You will need an experienced, knowledgeable, and skilled Kansas City car accident attorney to assist you with gathering these evidence pieces and using them to support your side of the story. A lawyer may also be able to request a drug test from the defendant.
Who is most likely to use drugs while behind the wheel?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that teenagers and elderly drivers are the two groups that are most likely to use drugs while behind the wheel. Teenage drivers are more likely to use illegal drugs, while elderly drivers typically depend on prescription medications for their health.
What are the laws regarding recreational or medical marijuana in Missouri and Kansas?
In December 2022, Missouri passed a law allowing people to have up to three ounces of recreational marijuana. The state also allows individuals with a medical marijuana card to purchase up to six ounces every month.
As of 2023, Kansas remains to be one of the last states that does not allow any recreational or medical marijuana.
Regardless of Missouri allowing recreational or medical marijuana, driving while under the influence of drugs is illegal in the state. Therefore, even if you think marijuana cannot do much harm, you should refrain from getting behind the wheel after using this drug in any form.
If you were injured by a drugged driver, Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys will help you navigate the complex legal system. Our team believes that these negligent drivers should be held accountable for their careless and reckless actions, and we will demand that they pay for the damages they have caused you. Please call our office or fill out our contact form to begin discussing with our car accident attorneys today. We are available to assist you anytime in our Kansas City, MO office, and we are available by appointment in Lee’s Summit, Parkville and St. Joseph (MO); Olathe, Kansas City, and Overland Park (KS).
Kansas City personal injury attorney James Roswold of Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys handles cases dealing with victims of personal injury, medical negligence, wrongful death, workers compensation, nursing home negligence, premises liability, product liability, car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases.