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Drugged Driving Accident Attorneys in Boston

Driving and drugs can be a disastrous combination. A driver under the influence of a drug is a danger to everyone on the road. Even a tiny amount of a drug can have a devastating effect.

It is illegal in Massachusetts and everywhere else in America to drive under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, opioids, and all other substances—legal or illegal—that can affect a person's coordination and judgment and cause an accident.

For various reasons, including the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts and other states, drugged driving is increasing. A recent study found that 56% of drivers involved in crashes that resulted in serious injury or a fatality tested positive for at least one drug.

If you have been a victim of a drugged driving collision, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The skilled and aggressive car accident attorneys at Jeffrey Glassman Injury Lawyers will work to protect your legal rights and make sure that you obtain the compensation you deserve.

What Should I Do After a Drugged Driving Accident?

First, call for help. Once the police arrive, explain what happened. Always mention if the other driver was weaving, driving outside the road lines, or any other erratic driving you observed before the crash. Witnesses may be able to verify the driver's erratic behavior.

In Massachusetts, individuals suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol have consented to provide a sample of breath, blood, or urine for testing merely because they are driving in the state. However, this law, known as the implied consent law, does not require that a person suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana or another drug submit to chemical testing. That means that Massachusetts drivers must give a chemical sample voluntarily, without any penalties or sanctions for refusal.

Police officers will try to determine if a driver is impaired by looking for signs like red eyes, slow or slurred speech, or the odor of marijuana emanating from the car. If the officers suspect that the driver is impaired, they will perform a series of field sobriety tests. For example, they will ask the driver to stand and balance on one foot and walk in a line.

A lawyer representing a drugged driving victim can use any evidence collected by the police to build a case. Signs of driver impairment are compelling and can be used to support other evidence of negligence, including speeding, ignoring traffic signs, or leaving the accident scene. It is not unusual for a driver who is drunk or high to flee the scene to avoid getting charged with a crime. If the driver does leave the scene, try to record the car's make, model, color, and license plate number, but do not give chase.

Preserve medical reports and bills as this evidence can be used to establish the severity of your injuries and how they have impacted your life.

Drugged driving cases are complex. It takes an experienced car accident lawyer to prove impairment and liability.

Millions of Americans Engage in Drugged Driving

Drugged driving is a bigger problem than most people realize. Various studies have shown that millions of Americans are driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs. According to a national drug survey, in 2019, 13.7 million people drove under the influence of illicit drugs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marijuana and opioids are the most commonly reported drugs individuals use while driving. Almost one in five reported that they used marijuana while driving a vehicle, and men are much more likely to engage in drugged driving than women.

Marijuana can affect a driver's motor coordination, judgment, ability to concentrate, and reaction time. A driver is more likely to cause a car crash when these skills are affected by even a slight margin.

Marijuana is not the only drug that alters a person's ability to drive a vehicle safely. Here's a quick guide to some other popular drugs and how they are likely to affect a person's driving:

Opioids: Morphine, fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone, and other opiates and opioids are pain relievers that produce a morphine-like effect. They are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor but are often misused because they create a sense of euphoria in addition to pain relief. Opioids can cause confusion, dizziness, and drowsiness. The illegal and highly addictive drug heroin is a type of opioid. When people run out of legally prescribed opioids, they often turn to heroin. Nearly 50,000 Americans died in 2019 from opioid-related deaths.

Sedatives: These drugs treat anxiety, panic, and sleep disorders. They slow brain activity, alter depth perception, and affect cognition. Doctors in the United States commonly prescribe sedatives known as benzodiazepines. Xanax, Valium and Ativan are common brands of benzodiazepines.

Cocaine: This illicit drug initially makes users feel alert and energetic, but those feelings soon turn to paranoia and anger. People who use cocaine often experience extreme sensitivity to light and sound.

Methamphetamine: Individuals use this powerful central nervous system stimulant for a quick rush of confidence and energy. Speed, also known as "uppers," is a form of methamphetamine. Side effects of these drugs include paranoia, hallucinations, and convulsions. In addition, drivers using methamphetamine or cocaine often drive aggressively and recklessly.

Why Are Drugged Driving Rates Increasing?

One of the main reasons for the uptick of drugged driving in the United States is the legalization of marijuana. At the time of writing, recreational marijuana was legal in 19 states, including Massachusetts. Public support for marijuana continues to rise, even though marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Each year, more states are legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreational use. As a result, drivers may be more likely to assume that it is safe to drive after using marijuana. However, this is not the case.

A recent study from a Harvard Medical School hospital determined that recreational cannabis use affects people's driving ability, even when they are not high from marijuana. During a driving simulation, these non-intoxicated drivers exceeded the speed limit, blew through red lights, and crossed the center line of roadways. Another study found that recreational pot laws could lead to 7,000 additional traffic fatalities every year.

Researchers also blame the opioid epidemic for the rise in drugged driving. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid epidemic a public health crisis. When a health care provider prescribes oxycodone or some other opioid, patients may falsely think that it is okay to drive while taking them.

People taking prescription drugs should read and follow all warning labels. Warnings that instruct patients to refrain from "operating heavy machinery" pertain to cars, too.

Many believe that the lack of accurate tests to determine if drivers have drugs in their systems prevents accurate tallies of drugged driving rates. There is no drug testing equivalent to a portable breathalyzer device, which tests the amount of alcohol in a person's blood.

Even if a drug test confirms drug use, the test does not always mean that the driver was impaired while driving. Certain drugs stay in a person's system for hours or even days after consumption. Marijuana, for example, can remain in a person's system for up to 90 days.

Much remains unknown about how many prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications affect drivers. In addition, it is difficult to determine how different drugs affect a person's driving ability because many people mix drugs, including alcohol. Many drivers who cause accidents have drugs and alcohol in their systems or more than one kind of drug. When a driver mixes drugs with alcohol, the effect can be more intense. Police usually don't test for drugs if a driver has an illegal blood alcohol level.

Tips for Preventing Drugged Driving

The National Institute on Drug Abuse offers these tips for preventing drugged driving:

  • Offer to be a designated driver.
  • Have a designated driver confiscate all car keys.
  • Get a ride to and from all parties where there are alcohol and drugs.
  • Avoid going to parties where there are alcohol and drugs.
  • Talk with friends about the dangers of drugged driving.

To learn more about how our attorneys can help with your drugged driving accident claim, call The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC today at (617) 777-7777 or by using our electronic form.

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