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Drunk or drugged: both are dangerous drivers

The number of people who use controlled substances such as heroin or opioids/opiates is increasing in many suburban areas, including neighborhoods around Charlotte. These drugs are not only addictive, but they are also dangerous and sometimes deadly. They significantly impair a person's ability to function, especially in situations where rapid and accurate responses are needed.

Drunk driving is a serious problem that gets significant attention, but what about the drivers who are under the influence of other intoxicating drugs? Even if prescribed by a doctor, these drugs could cause impairment that leads to a serious car accident. 

Sometimes, people think they are okay to drive but chemical tests show they aren't. State laws hold these people accountable for getting behind the wheel, anyway.

Those who regularly consume alcohol may believe they have developed a tolerance for it. The individual may perceive themselves as not quite intoxicated, when legally and medically speaking, he or she is actually quite drunk.

The same is true for heroin and those who take pain pills. The person may think that they won't have issues driving a vehicle, but response time, judgment and even perception can be severely impacted by opioids/opiates or heroin. Overconfidence in one's ability combined with chemical intoxication is a perfect recipe for a serious vehicular crash.

North Carolina holds drugged drivers responsible

If another driver has caused an accident, the symptoms often appear similar to alcohol intoxication. What are some other indications?

  • The person driving the other car may remove things from the vehicle or try to hide or throw something away.
  • The other person may admit, either to you or to someone on the phone, that drugs were a factor.
  • The other person may slur their words, look tired or appear unsteady on their feet. 

If you believe that the person who caused your accident was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should immediately share those concerns with law enforcement. Police can conduct roadside sobriety tests and take additional steps as well.

While there is no Breathalyzer test for opioid or opiate drugs, law enforcement can order a blood test if there is reasonable suspicion. Particularly in cases where the other driver is presenting symptoms of intoxication but passes a breath test for alcohol, close screening for other intoxicants makes a lot of sense.

If tests show that the driver was under the influence at the time of the accident, that driver could be held criminally liable for the accident. If you experienced serious property damage, severe injuries or a fatality due to the accident, you may also be able to hold the driver civilly liable for the crash.

Talk to an attorney if you're the victim of drugged driving

There are a lot of issues to consider after drugged driving accidents. Insurance policies, insurance offers and the question of liability are complex issues. Working with an experienced personal injury and wrongful death lawyer can help you explore your legal options for compensation after a serious accident involving a driver who was high on drugs.

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  • North Carolina Advocates for Justice Protecting People’s rights
  • NOSSCR National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives
  • American Association for Justice formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America ATLA
  • ABA American Bar Association
  • NOVA
  • North Carolina State Bar
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