Many people are familiar with the concept of driving while drunk, which is commonly referred to as driving under the influence. In Massachusetts, however, the technical name for this offense is operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This important distinction is intended to cover those drivers who are under the influence of substances other than alcohol and who pose a threat to other motorists and pedestrians.
In a recent article from CNN, the number of reported incidences of motorists driving under the influence of marijuana is increasing. According to nationwide statistics, incidences of so-called “drugged” driving have risen from 12 percent in 2007 to 15 percent in 2014. These statistics were compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety information service based on voluntary roadside surveys, which involve the volunteers contributing saliva or blood samples on the roadside.
The most common drug located in the volunteer subjects’ system was marijuana, accounting for roughly one-third of the total test results. The next most common drug was amphetamines, accounting for 10 percent, but this figure may not be entirely accurate because any individual taking legal stimulants to treat ADHD would have registered a positive test result. This does not mean, however, that it is safe to operate a motor vehicle while taking prescription drugs. In fact, for many drugs, a doctor will advise the patient to refrain from operating a motor vehicle or any heavy machinery until he or she has an idea of whether the drug will affect his or her ability to operate the vehicle or machinery safely.
When it comes to causing accidents, there is no question that drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. To recover damages in a car accident case, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to operate his or her vehicle with reasonable care and that the defendant failed to meet this duty. The plaintiff must also show that the defendant’s failure to meet this duty was the cause of his or her damages. In a drugged driving case, proving that the defendant was under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident can pose a problem.
Unlike alcohol, which does not stay in the imbiber’s blood for more than a day, drugs, especially marijuana, can stay in the user’s system for several weeks. This means that a test to determine whether the defendant has used marijuana may not accurately indicate whether the person in question was in an altered state at the specific time of the test. Due to this, it is critical to examine other characteristics and behaviors that the defendant exhibited at the time of the collision to establish that he or she was drugged behind the wheel.
If you or someone you love has been injured due to another driver’s carelessness, the car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of John S. Moffa are here to help. We understand how difficult this situation can be for you and your family and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us now at 1-800-446-4485 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.