Prescription Drugged Driving May Constitute the New DUI Epidemic
In recent years, traffic safety experts have observed a "good news-bad news" scenario in term of auto accidents caused by substance impaired drivers. While the number of alcohol-related collisions and fatalities has consistently declined due to more aggressive enforcement, tougher penalties and public service campaigns, the elation over this improvement has been tempered by the offsetting increase in crashes caused by prescription drug impairment.
The increase in collisions caused by prescription drug use mirrors the epidemic of prescription drug abuse across the U.S. The National Safety Council (NSC) recently released a report that indicated 47 states must improve policies and procedures for prescribing and monitoring opioid pain relievers to combat the rising number of deaths related to overdoses from prescription medications. The NSC reports that 45 people die on a daily basis from prescription drug overdoses, which doubles the number of overdose deaths from heroin and cocaine. Easy access to prescription pain medication resulted in enough pain pills being prescribed during a 12 month period to medicate every adult in the U.S. for a thirty day period according to NSC statistics. The prescription drug epidemic has become such a serious issue that prescription drug overdoses have replaced motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths.
The extensive abuse of pain pills, anti-anxiety medications, sleeping pills and similar medications that impair driving ability has made prescription drug impaired drivers a threat to all others who use the roadways. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that prescription medications can effect mental and physical skills necessary for safe driving, such as:
• Reaction time
While operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of prescription drugs is illegal, just like driving while under the influence of illegal narcotics and alcohol, prescription drug impairment is more difficult to combat for a number of reasons that include:
• Difficulty in predicting the impact of a particular dosage on different drivers
• Testing for every form of prescription drug that may cause impairment is impractical
• Challenges in determining when the medication was actually ingested
• Discouraging behavior justified by a valid prescription
Because the metabolites of many prescription drugs remain in the blood for days, weeks and even months after ingesting the substance, many drivers will test positive for a painkiller or other drug that can impair driving ability even if it was not taken prior to driving. This challenge in proving that a driver was actually impaired by a prescription drug can complicate the task of proving impairment in a personal injury action. While expert testimony may be helpful, it often is necessary to focus on the actual driving error or traffic violation made by the driver rather than the issue of prescription drug impairment. However, the impairment issue may be important when seeking punitive damages,and can be important to establishing liability, so our Atlanta prescription drug impairment attorneys work diligently to gather evidence that the at-fault driver was under the influence of a drug at the time of the collision.
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If you or your family member is injured or a loved one dies in a drugged driving accident, our Atlanta personal injury lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been helping injury victims and their families for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.