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Legally High: When Prescription Drugs Cause Auto Accidents

Legally High: When Prescription Drugs Cause Auto Accidents

In recent years, there has been a decline in the number of people who were killed or injured as a result of drunk driving. In contrast, however, driving while under the influence of drugs (both prescription and illegal) remains a danger.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

"Drugs acting on the brain can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination, reaction time, and other faculties required for safe driving. The effects of specific drugs of abuse differ depending on their mechanisms of action, the amount consumed, the history of the user, and other factors."

Although limits vary, every state makes it illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol level over a certain limit. But drugged driving is more difficult to regulate, for several reasons including:

  • The number of illicit and prescription drugs that can cause impairment
  • The fact that the same dosage of a drug will cause different levels of impairment in different people
  • It is often difficult to test for every drug that could possibly cause impairment
  • And that drugs stay in the system for varying amounts of time

Drug Use & Auto Accidents

Just because a drug is legal and it's been prescribed to a person doesn't mean that it's OK to drive while taking the prescription drug. "Many medications (e.g., benzodiazepines and opiate analgesics) act on systems in the brain that could impair driving ability," says the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "In fact, many prescription drugs come with warnings against the operation of machinery—including motor vehicles—for a specified period of time after use."

If an automobile accident occurs and a police officer suspects that a driver may be impaired, he can order the driver to be screened—through blood or urine tests—for the presence of drugs in the system.

Drugged drivers can be found liable for automobile accidents even if they were taking a legal prescription drug.

If you've been in a car crash with a drugged driver, talk to an automobile accident attorney immediately. You have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver, and may be able to recover compensation for your accident-related expenses.

Visit LawyerLocator to learn more about personal injury law or to find an automobile accident attorney in your area.