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Driving Under the Influence of Opioids is Becoming More Common

April 11, 2017

Cellphone video footage taken by an Ohio motorist made national news for its depiction of what is becoming a more common occurrence on roads and highways across the nation: motorists who are driving under the influence of heroin and opioids. In the video, the motorist attempts to awaken a fellow driver who is shown to be unconscious – passed out due to an overdose of heroin. Thankfully, the unconscious motorist did not injure anyone, and he was able to survive his overdose due to timely medical intervention. However, with opioid and heroin use and abuse on the rise, the numbers of individuals who are getting behind the wheel in such a state is also increasing.

 Effects of Opioids and Opiates

Opiates and opioids are drugs that affect the central nervous system and act to alleviate pain. They are derived in some manner from the opium poppy. In addition to heroin, other opioid drugs include OxyContin, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. These drugs are extremely effective in minimizing pain and, when used as prescribed and over a short period of time, are generally safe for patients. However, opiates and opioids can be very addictive and lead to side effects, such as:

  • Lethargy and drowsiness;
  • Paranoia;
  • Nausea and vomiting; and
  • Liver and brain damage.

Due to these side effects, those who use, and especially those who abuse, opiates and opioids can be dangerous when they are behind the wheel of a car. A driver who is lethargic due to opioid or opiate use will have increased reaction times, meaning that it will take longer for him or her to respond to hazards like stopped or slowed traffic, pedestrians crossing the street, traffic control lights and signals, and vehicles that are changing lanes or turning. Overdoses of opiates and opioids can lead to the user becoming unconscious or dying, which can turn the person's vehicle into an uncontrollable missile that will continue on its way until it strikes another object.

Legal Liability for Users of Opiates and Opioids

Those who use and abuse opiates and opioids (whether they are prescribed or not) and cause a car crash as a result of the side effects of these drugs may be held legally responsible for the injuries and harm they cause to others. This is because using drugs like opiates and opioids that are known to cause lethargy or drowsiness while driving can be considered a careless or negligent act. To avoid causing a wreck and being held responsible for another's injuries, you should:

  • Never use illegal drugs of any sort;
  • Only use prescription medications precisely as directed by your doctor;
  • Do not abuse opioids or opiates – once you feel that your pain can be managed with a less addictive medication, discuss changing your medication with your doctor; and
  • Avoid driving after taking an opiate or opioid until you are familiar with how the drug will affect you.

Contact Us for Assistance After a Driving Under the Influence Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a crash that you believe was caused by a drugged driver, do not hesitate to contact Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law, right away.  Our  attorneys will advise you on your legal rights as well as what steps are necessary to protect those rights.  

Our firm has over 38 years of experience in representing car crash injury victims across Georgia and in the Southeast. Contact us to schedule your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.


Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
17 Executive Park Dr NE
Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (404) 529-6333
Toll Free: 1 (800) LAW-NEED

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.