Tennessee Drug-Impaired Driving Attorney

The abuse of illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine and heroin, and prescription narcotics has become a health crisis in Tennessee. Drug overdoses killed 1,631 Tennesseans in 2016, and it’s not just the people abusing drugs who are at risk of serious and fatal consequences.

When people use drugs and drive, they put other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists at risk of injury and death. When drugged drivers cause a crash, they should be held accountable.

If you’ve been injured in a crash and believe a drugged driver was to blame, you might be entitled to compensation. Contact the Law Office of John R. Colvin to request your free, no-obligation case consultation.

Facts About Drugged Driving

The number of Tennessee crash fatalities attributed to drug-impaired driving increased by 89 percent between 2010 and 2015, and drugged driving has surpassed drunk driving in fatal crash causes.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, people who use drugs tend to take a combination of substances; they often also consume alcohol. The interactions of drugs and alcohol are unpredictable, and drivers may not realize all the ways in which their driving can be impaired.

Some of the dangerous effects drugs may cause include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Impaired vision or judgment
  • Poor reaction time

It’s not just illicit drugs that can impair driving skills. Over-the-counter medications used to treat allergies and cold symptoms may cause marked drowsiness in some people. Legally prescribed medications may also impair driving, especially if not taken as directed.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Many medications available only with a prescription – such as sedatives and narcotic painkillers – are obtained illegally. People may obtain these drugs by forging prescriptions or by “doctor shopping” – the act of visiting several doctors in order to get multiple prescriptions for drugs. Those people may use the drugs themselves, along with selling drugs to make money.

People who buy prescription medications illegally may be unaware of just how potent these drugs are, or how these drugs may interact with other substances, raising the risk of accidental overdose. Pain medications are manufactured with different levels of narcotics, so even when two medications look alike, one may be considerably stronger than the other. Someone who takes such a drug before driving may not anticipate the level of impairment they’re likely to experience. — but ignorance is no excuse for drugged driving.

Marijuana-impaired Driving

The impairing effects of marijuana are not well understood, but when drivers combine it with alcohol, they are more likely to exhibit behaviors like weaving out of their lane.

Because many states have decriminalized the use of marijuana, and a handful of states have legalized it, people may assume marijuana is harmless. However, it is second only to alcohol in drivers who are blood-tested after a crash.

After Colorado legalized marijuana, the three-year average of marijuana-related traffic fatalities increased by 48 percent, compared to the previous three-year period, whereas traffic fatalities of all types increased by only 11 percent. Those facts come from a report on drug-impaired driving by the Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibly. That report also revealed that in 2015, of the fatally injured drivers whose blood was tested, 43 percent tested positive for marijuana.

Enforcement Challenges

Police officers can easily test drivers for alcohol impairment, using a Breathalyzer to gauge blood alcohol level. But there is no simple roadside test for drug impairment. Only a blood draw can confirm with certainty that a person was driving while under the influence of drugs. Even so, drug impairment is subjective – the presence in the bloodstream of marijuana or a legally prescribed prescription drug does not necessarily prove impairment.

Law enforcement officials may have difficulty holding drugged drivers accountable for their actions, because of a lack of solid evidence. When drugged drivers cause an accident that injures someone, however, police may be able to charge those drivers with additional offenses (such as reckless driving or vehicular assault).

Help for Injury Victims

Cases involving drugged driving may not be as easy to resolve as those involving drunk driving. If you’ve suffered an injury because of a drugged driver, or a drugged driver fatally injured your family member, you need an experienced attorney on your side.

Attorney John R. Colvin has more than two decades of experience representing people who have been seriously injured in traffic accidents. Don’t wait to get the help you deserve – contact our office today to request your free case consultation.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama