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New NHTSA Study Suggests Drug Related Fatal Auto Accidents Increasing

December 05, 2010

Results of a new study have just been released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicating that the frequency of drug involvement in fatal auto accidents may be increasing. The study found that 13,732 drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 were tested for drugs. Among drivers who were tested for drug involvement, 3,952 tested positive for drugs in their system, which amounts to 18 percent of all fatality traffic accidents during 2009. This represents a 5% increase from 2005.

The NHTSA points out that drug involvement does not necessarily mean that the drivers were impaired or that drug use contributed to the accident. However, the increase offers strong evidence that drug use may be on the rise as a contributing factor in serious traffic collisions that result in fatalities or catastrophic injuries. The types of drugs recorded included narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabinoids, phencyclidines (PCPs), anabolic steroids, and inhalants. The groups include illicit drugs, as well as legally prescribed drugs and over-the-counter medicines. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing families throughout Georgia who have had a loved one injured in a motor vehicle accident for over 37 years.

The term "auto accident" is a misnomer when applied to traffic accidents where a driver is under the influence of drugs, whether prescription drugs or illegal narcotics. A driver who takes a drug that impairs one’s driving ability before proceeding to get behind the wheel of a car recklessly puts others who share the roadway at risk. If a driver is under the influence of drugs when involved in a serious motor vehicle accident, the driver’s conscious disregard for the safety of others on the road can be the basis for imposing punitive damages which are intended to discourage and punish particularly egregious behavior. While a Georgia drug-related auto accident victim is entitled to the damages available in other car accidents including medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earnings, pain and suffering, and loss of consortium (loss of services or companionship from a spouse or sometimes child), punitive damages may exceed all other damages combined.

A drug-related auto accident can be complex and depending on the facts, may require expert testimony. When a driver is impaired by alcohol, one’s driving ability is presumed to be impaired if the driver’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds Georgia’s legal threshold of .08%. There is no similar presumption for drugs so it must actually be established that the accident was related to drug impairment while driving. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we may use experts to testify about the impact of a particular type or amount of drug and how it would have impaired a person’s driving ability, depending on the specific facts and seriousness of the case. Even if the drug that impairs one’s driving ability is a legal prescription drug, that does not excuse operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of the drug. Prescription drugs that impair driving ability typically come with prominent warnings so a driver who disregards such warnings needlessly puts others on the road at risk.

Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, has been assisting those injured or killed in drug-related traffic accidents seek compensation for their injuries in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia for over 37 years. Our Georgia DUI accident lawyers understand the grief and hardship caused by drivers who insist on putting others at risk by driving while under the influence of prescription drugs and illegal narcotics. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Category: Auto Accidents

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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.