Drugged Driving Threatens Public Safety by Causing Impaired Driving Accidents


March 13, 2015

With the increased use of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs, drugged drivers continue to constitute a significant public safety risk. While alcohol and illegal drugs might receive more attention as a cause of Atlanta car accidents, legal drugs prescribed by a physician and OTC medications also can seriously impair driving ability. These legal medications can compromise a driver's mental and physical driving abilities by causing drowsiness, impaired coordination, diminished reaction time and poor judgment. If you are struck and suffer injury while navigating the roads of Atlanta and the surrounding vicinity, our experienced Atlanta auto accident lawyers diligently represent the victims of drug impaired drivers.

Even OTC drugs like cold medications, antihistamines and cough syrups can cause drowsy driving. Some drugs have labels warning users not to operate heavy machinery when under the influence of the medication, but this type of warning should discourage people from operating any motor vehicle after taking such a drug. People who know that they must drive while taking a medication should opt for a version of the medication that does not cause drowsiness. Frequently, the label on a drug makes it clear that the drug will impair driving ability by listing effects like "dizziness." Medications like these compromise decision-making and slow central nervous system reactions.

Motorists who blow through red lights or rear-end other vehicles because they are experiencing effects of a medication cannot avoid liability simply because use of the medication was lawful. Because OTC and prescription medications provide warnings to consumers, a valid prescription or lawful purchase of an OTC will not excuse a collision resulting from impaired driving ability caused by such a drug.

Generally, drivers have a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid foreseeable injury to others. In the context of operating a motor vehicle, this duty would include not consuming medications that impact driving ability, such as drugs that cause drowsiness. Although the legal status of a drug does not excuse impaired driving accidents, the driver might have a defense if the drug did not carry any warnings. The issue that would have to be resolved is whether a reasonable person would have been aware that the drug impaired driving ability. If the driver has used the drug on prior occasions, for example, a jury might determine that the motorist should have known that it was not safe to drive even without an express warning.

When Atlanta drivers are involved in a car accident, the police should be summoned even if only minor injuries are suspected. Drug impairment can be difficult to determine if the police do not conduct an investigation at the scene which might include obtaining a blood sample for chemical testing or summoning a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) with specialized training in identifying drug impaired drivers. If you have reason to believe the other driver is under the influence of a legal or illegal drug, you should alert the investigating officer of any evidence supporting your suspicion.

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Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.