Drugged Driving Accidents
While many individuals in Georgia are aware of the essential laws and risks involving motor vehicle drivers who operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, many individuals do not understand the danger posed by driving while under the influence of any type of drug. Although drugged driving is as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol, a slightly different set of rules and dangers applies to drugged driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has slowly begun to enforce various regulations regarding drugged driving. All motorists in the state of Georgia should understand some of the key elements about drugged driving within the state.Applicable Georgia Law
Georgia law makes it a crime for an individual to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any drug to such a degree that it becomes less safe for the individual to operate a motor vehicle or if an individual operates a motor vehicle with any amount of a controlled substance in the individual’s body.Common Drugs Associated with Drugged Driving
Many statistics focus upon the use of illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines by motor vehicle drivers in Georgia, but statistics suggest that there is just as significant a number of drivers who operate vehicles while using prescription and over-the-counter medications that greatly impair drivers. Numerous types of drugs can impair an individual’s ability to drive. Some of the most common drugs taken by drivers involved in drugged driving accidents include the following:
- Cocaine. Cocaine can create aggression, disorientation, dizziness, and irritability which can greatly impair a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
- LSD. Driving under the influence of LSD can create hallucinations and significantly alter an individual’s mental state. The effects of this drug can severely impair an individual’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.
- Marijuana. Marijuana is involved in a large number of drugged driving accidents. Drivers are impaired by marijuana in a variety of ways including distortion of time and distance, drowsiness, and inability to focus among other side effects.
- Morphine and Heroin. These two drugs cause users to feel disconnected, dizzy, drowsy, and nauseous which can greatly impair an individual’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
- Over the Counter Drugs. Taken at incorrect doses, these drugs have the potential to cause dizziness, impaired coordination, and sleeping among other adverse side effects.
- Prescription Drugs. A number of accidents have been caused by drivers who have been under the influence of prescription drugs. Some of the prescription drugs that are most used by drugged drivers include Ambien, Flexeril, Lunesta, Norcos, Oxycodone, OxyContin, Percocet, Phenergan, Xanax, and Valium.
There are a limited amount of defenses that individuals can successfully argue in response to drugged driving charges. A doctor’s prescription is not a defense to drugged driving charges. Also, given how Georgia law is written, individuals are unable to successfully defend against a drugged driving charge by arguing that merely a small dose of medication was taken. Some of the defenses which individuals can successfully argue include the following:
- Faulty chemical test administration. An arrest can be ruled improper if the arrest was based upon an improperly administered field sobriety test or inaccurate chemical test results.
- Invalid traffic stops. This common defense includes a situation in which law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop.
- Involuntary intoxication. When an individual has ingested drugs unknowingly, a successfully defense can sometimes be successfully raised. Individuals should note that this defense is rarely successful.
There are several signs that a driver is impaired by drugs. Some of the most common signs include the following: the driver is traveling at a speed that is either too fast or too slow, the driver is slow to respond to traffic signals, the driver ignores traffic signs and signals, the driver is either swerving or weaving between lanes, the driver makes excessively wide turns, the driver makes illegal turns, the driver is traveling in the wrong direction, the driver accelerates or brakes for no reason, the driver forgets to turn on headlights at night, or the driver is too close to other vehicles or objects.Common Types of Injuries Due to Drugged Driving Accidents
Injuries due to drugged driving accidents can occur in a variety of ways. Some of the most common types of injuries due to drugged driving include head injuries, joint injuries, ligament injuries, sternum injuries, and in the worst cases even fatalities. Drugged driving accidents that occur at higher speeds or involve larger vehicles often result in even more severe injuries.Safety Tips if Another Driver Is Impaired By Drugs
Individuals who believe that another motor vehicle driver is impaired by drugs, it is a wise to follow some essential safety precautions which include the following:
- Do not try to stop the driver or follow the vehicle. Both of these practices are unsafe. Drivers who believe that another driver is operating a vehicle in an unsafe matter should instead call emergency services. Individuals should then provide the operator with a description of the unsafe driver’s location as well as a description of the unsafe driver’s vehicle and license plate number.
- Slow down. By slowing down, motorists can increase distance from the unsafe driver.
- Stay as far away from the impaired driver as possible. Individuals should try not to pass the driver because the individual could be injured if the driver makes any type of erratic driving pattern.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to an accident caused by a drugged driver, the skilled car accident legal counsel at The Angell Law Firm LLC can help you fight for your legal rights. An attorney at our firm can help prove that another driver caused an accident by driving under the influence of drugs and that an accident victim is entitled to receive compensation for resulting injuries. Our legal team can also build the strongest case possible against a responsible to ensure that a client receives maximum compensation.