U.S. Capital

Drug Use Gaining on Alcohol for Impaired Driving Accidents Says Austin Attorney Bobby Lee

Feb 29, 2016

Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) February 29, 2016 – Consider what happened to an unsuspecting motorcycle rider when a 21-year-old driver, traveling at a high rate of speed, ran up over the back of the biker, ejecting him to the pavement. The biker lived to tell the tale. The car driver was high on depressants, marijuana and narcotic painkillers but he was not obviously impaired, other than somewhat lethargic at the scene of the accident.

That case is one of the many just beginning to emerge across the nation. Highway safety advocates, law enforcement and the legal community are beginning to see more incidents of drugged driving. In Nebraska alone last year, 28 people were killed as a result of high drivers with impaired driving ability and clouded mental acuity.

According to the director of the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, Fred Zwonechek, drugged driving is “clearly an emerging issue.” The most commonly used drug in drug-related collisions is marijuana. “With medical marijuana use growing across the nation, it would not be too surprising to see even more accidents should the legal user overuse,” said Lee. Twenty-three states have legalized medical use of marijuana and four have legalized recreational use.

The difficulty with enforcement lies in whether or not there is or should be a distinction between drunk driving and drugged driving, or whether or not impaired driving covers both offenses. For instance, in Nebraska impaired driving is impaired driving no matter what the driver has consumed/smoked. While the law may be clear, it is less clear when it comes to stopping drugged drivers. There are simply no validated standards for all of the drugs, street and prescription, known to affect a driver’s competence and there are no roadside tests to check for drug impairment.

Peter Odom of the National District Attorneys Association says, “The reality is drugged drivers escape detection. We don’t know how big the problem is, but we know it’s big.’’ The inability to detect a drugged driver is further compounded by how fast some drugs clear the body before they clear the brain.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a survey in 2015 of night time drivers and found 13 percent tested positive for THC (marijuana). When other drugs were thrown into the mix, both legal and illegal, the percentage of those behind the wheel and driving while impaired jumped to 22 percent. The one thing that is currently not being tracked with any regularity when it comes to fatal accidents caused by a drunk driver is confirmation of other substances in the blood in addition to alcohol. More often than not a drinker has taken drugs as well.

Drugged driving is a serious issue and it is likely to become even more so with the increased use of various recreational and prescription drugs. Driving is now becoming a high-risk task.

For further information on drugged driving, visit: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving

To learn more, visit http://www.lgrlawfirm.com

Lee, Gober & Reyna
11940 Jollyville Road #220-S
Austin, Texas 78759
Phone: 512.478.8080

  • Even cyclists need to be on the lookout for distracted drivers
    It’s bad enough that drivers and pedestrians have to be on the alert for distracted drivers, but not many people think about cyclists. Cyclists are a large part of the driving landscape in many American cities, and if a driver is texting while behind the wheel, the cyclist is at risk of being hit. Houston, one of America’s largest cities, still lets drivers text while traveling on freeways, although that may change. The main argument against passing any legislation that restricts a driver’s right to use cell phones while they are driving involves the freedom to communicate and government interference […]
  • Texas amps up motorcycle awareness education
    Texas is famous for many things, including leading most other states for the number of drunk driving deaths on their highways. Additionally, it has an extremely large number of motorcycles registered and a very high number of biker deaths. Consider yet another deadly crash on Highway 69. A biker was heading north, lost control of his motorcycle and hit a guardrail. The highway was shut down for a number of hours while accident scene personnel worked to assess the crash and clear away the debris. It is not just the fact that motorcyclists are not protected like passengers in a […]
  • Semi truck hits two changing a tire
    The two people killed in this case did not stand a chance. An 18-wheeler hit their vehicle on I-10 near Vinton. The victims were changing a tire under the Vernon overpass when the truck, driven by 61-year-old Patrick O’Leary, ran into them. The trucker was arrested and booked into the county jail. His bail was set at $400,000. In this instance, it was not made clear just why the trucker did run into the vehicle under the underpass and the police indicated they would be investigating further to determine what happened. There are any one of a number of things […]
  • Texarkana popular bar sued in wrongful death action that left two dead, one permanently disabled
    It was 2013 when this ugly accident happened. The bar, Hopkins Icehouse, its owners and the defendant, Chad Caldwell, are being sued for the deaths of Tameka Pavon and Jercarlos Hawkins. Caldwell ran a red light on Sept. 29, 2013 and slammed into the vehicle carrying Pavon, Hawkins and a third individual, Genaro Camacho, who sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, from which he is not expected to totally recover. At the time of the crash, Caldwell was charged by police for one count of intoxication assault and two counts of intoxication manslaughter. He landed in jail and is currently […]
  • Ethan Couch apprehended in Mexico
    The Couch case is an immediate flashpoint for numerous people who feel justice was not served in his case. The now 18-year-old Ethan Couch, a.k.a. the Affluenza kid, received a light sentence for killing four in a drunk-driving collision in 2013. His attorney argued successfully that he was so spoiled and rich that he did not know right from wrong. Recently, Couch was featured in a video that showed him drinking and playing beer pong, clearly in violation of the conditions of his parole. The video found its way to the police. Additionally, Couch failed to arrive for a parole […]