The recent motor vehicle accident statistics are another alarming indicator of just how prevalent the drug epidemic is in this country: Drugs are more likely to be the cause of a fatal crash than alcohol.
According to the recent report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, in 2015, 43 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for legal or illegal drugs, while 37 percent tested above the legal limit for alcohol. The most common drug in drivers’ system was marijuana, with one-third testing positive for the drug. Approximately 10 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for amphetamines.
The head of the foundation, Ralph S. Blackman, said the report shows that while drunk driving has decreased, drugged driving has increased. The non-profit foundation gets its funding from a group of distillers.
The opioid epidemic gripping this country is not in question. In 2015, 33,000 people died from drug overdoses, a number very close to the 35,000 killed in motor vehicle accidents. This epidemic has resulted in a new phenomenon seen more and more by law enforcement – overdosed driving.
Compounding the issues is that more than two dozen states have passed medical marijuana laws, 17 states have decriminalized it, and eight states now allow recreational use. Critics of these more lenient marijuana laws point out to one alarming statistic – the number of traffic fatalities linked to marijuana in Colorado has increased almost 50 percent since the state legalized its recreational use. Many surveys of marijuana users from that state and Washington reveal that the majority do not believe marijuana affects their driving ability. They do believe alcohol does.
Unlike drunk driving, which can be tested by law enforcement right at the location of a vehicle crash, testing for drug use requires blood testing which cannot be done at the scene. This delay can result in the drug metabolizing in the driver’s system, making it almost impossible to prove the actual amount in their system when the crash occurred.
Contact a North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney
It is a crime under North Carolina law to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition to criminal charges, an impaired driver who causes an accident may also be responsible for punitive damages for any victims who were injured in the crash or to the families of anyone killed in the crash.
Punitive damages are punishment for the driver for their reckless behavior. Injured victims or anyone who has lost a loved one in a car accident caused by a drugged driver should contact a skilled North Carolina car accident attorney to find out what legal options they may have.
At Shapiro & Appleton, we have been advocating for injured clients since 1985 and will do all we can to ensure you receive the best possible outcome under the circumstances of your case. If you would like to meet with one of our skilled Virginia car accident attorneys to find out how we can help, call us today at 800-752-0042 for a free case evaluation.