Drugged Driving Statistics
Drugs are a contributing factor in about 15% of all motor vehicle accident deaths in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drugs such as marijuana and cocaine are often combined with alcohol, enhancing the risks to everyone on our roads. Drug-impaired driving in Texas has drawn increasing concern over the past decade. The criminal repercussions notwithstanding, drugged driving can also result in civil claims by victims of negligent drugged drivers.
Texas law prohibits driving under the influence of drugs. Like alcohol, DUI is an “intoxication offense,” defined as not having the normal use of one’s mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of a controlled substance, a drug, or a combination of these substances in the perpetrator.
Prosecuted under Texas Penal Code Section 49.01, intoxication can be legally viewed as the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, or a combination of any of these substances.
Proof of intoxication in Texas consists of establishing the following:
- The defendant was operating a motor vehicle in Texas in a public place; and
- While operating the motor vehicle, the defendant did not have normal use of mental or physical faculties because of the substance(s) introduced into the body.
In addition to recreational drugs, most notably marijuana, some prescription medications – such as opioids – also impair a person’s ability to make rational decisions, and over-the-counter medications can also affect one’s ability to drive safely. Driving while impaired by any substance – legal or illegal – may be considered negligence if it leads to a crash, making those who cause the accident liable for their victims’ legal damages.
If you or a loved one has been harmed because someone chose to drive while under the influence of legal or illegal drugs, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. This is why you should seek legal advice immediately. Further, you should retain experienced legal counsel before you ever discuss the matter with anyone who is aligned with the negligent person who caused the accident. Contact an experienced Houston drugged driving lawyer today for a free consultation.
Drugs Impair Drivers’ Abilities
A 2016 report prepared by the Office of National Drug Control Policy shared the following facts about fatal accidents in which drivers were tested for drugs:
- 18% of all fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs.
- 57% (nearly three out of five) of drugged-driver crashes were single-vehicle accidents.
- Almost half (48%) of drivers who tested positive for any drug also tested positive for alcohol.
- Narcotics and cannabinoids (marijuana-type substances) accounted for almost half of all drug-positive results.
- Cannabinoids were found in 43% of all vehicle accident fatalities in victims under the age of 24 who tested positive for drugs.
- Higher rates of narcotics and depressants were found in fatally injured drivers over the age of 45.
The report also cited the following recreational drugs as substantial impairments to driving ability:
- Morphine and heroin
- Methamphetamine and amphetamine
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
Driver Impairment Caused by Over-the-Counter Drugs
A number of drugs which are legally purchased over the counter, or by prescription, can also result in DUI charges if drivers are under their influence. They can include (among others):
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Anti-anxiety medications such as Valium
- Sleeping pills
Drug-impaired drivers may be held responsible for all your accident-related losses. This is true even if you were a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who was impaired by drugs — you could recover compensation from the driver of the car in which you were riding.
Damages Available to Victims in a Drugged-Driving Accident
Those who are injured by a negligently drugged driver can demand the following injuries from the defendant, which are usually paid by their insurance company:
- All related medical bills and rehabilitation costs
- Lost income, compensation for decreased earning capacity, and loss of any benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability and disfigurement
- Repair or replacement of your vehicle, any personal property in the vehicle which was destroyed, towing fees, cost of a rental vehicle
- Punitive damages in some cases
Those who cause accidents while driving under the influence of drugs and are convicted of this criminal offense are often also found to be negligent and civilly liable for the damages caused by their wreck. At Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law, our experienced Houston drugged driving lawyers work with investigators as well as law enforcement to determine whether drugs contributed to your crash. Our investigators examine medical records, police reports, test results, and toxicology reports to establish the liability of the driver responsible for the crash that injured you and/or your family members.
Getting Help With Your Claim
If you have been injured in any vehicle accident caused by someone who was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable Houston drugged driving accident attorney as soon as possible.
Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation and start defending your right to compensation.