In the 1980s and 1990s, groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) fought hard to spread awareness about the devastating injuries and deaths caused by drunk driving. Thanks in part to these efforts, drunk driving deaths dropped by 48% nationwide between 1982 and 2019. However, a similar battle against drugged driving is just beginning.
In 2018, the Governors Highway Safety Association reported it had analyzed data from 2016 and found that 44 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for intoxicating drugs — up from only 29 percent a decade prior. And in Texas, the number of suspected impaired driving cases that prompted drug tests jumped from 2,000 in 2014 to 5,000 in 2018.
Dr. Peter Stout, president and CEO of the Houston Forensic Science Center, said his staff sees a clear pattern in the results from those tests. “[More are] negative for alcohol, and more and more are positive for drugs,” Stout told KPRC Houston.
Read on to learn more about what’s fueling this trend and find out what you can do if you’ve been injured in a car wreck caused by drugged driving.
Changing Attitudes Toward Marijuana Come With Unexpected Costs
One factor fueling the surge in drugged driving rates is the steady sea change in both marijuana laws and public attitudes toward marijuana (also known as cannabis). Twenty-six states have legalized or decriminalized marijuana for recreational use; most of those states adopted their new cannabis laws within the past few years. And even though Texas doesn’t allow for the recreational purchase or consumption of marijuana, nearby states like Colorado and Nevada do, which means marijuana is more accessible than ever for Texans.
Among many drivers, marijuana has an increasingly benign reputation. According to survey results published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2019, almost 70 percent of Americans think a person isn’t likely to get arrested for driving while intoxicated on marijuana. And 7 percent of those surveyed said they approved of driving after recently using marijuana — much higher than the approval rates for other behaviors like drunk driving (1.6 percent) and drowsy driving (1.7 percent).
“To prove someone was driving under the influence of drugs, you’ll need expert witnesses who can interpret drug test results and explain how the drug played a role in the wreck.”
These lax attitudes toward driving while high clash with years of traffic safety data that shows that people who drive after smoking marijuana are twice as likely to get involved in a car crash.
“Marijuana can significantly alter reaction times and impair a driver’s judgment,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Yet many drivers don’t consider marijuana-impaired driving as risky as other behaviors like driving drunk or talking on the phone while driving.”
Increased Opioid Use Fuels Rising Rates of Drugged Driving
Marijuana isn’t the only drug that’s causing serious trouble on our roadways. Experts agree that the nation’s opioid use epidemic — which has caused death rates from opioid overdose rates to increase more than fivefold since 1999 — is also translating to more drug-intoxicated drivers on the road.
Unfortunately, police and crime labs are struggling to come up with reliable methods to test drivers quickly for intoxication by illegal and prescription drugs. Not only are there hundreds of possible intoxicating drugs that a driver could use, but about half of drivers who test positive for drugs have two or more drugs in their system, according to data from AAA.
Even establishing how much of a drug has to show up in a test to prove intoxication is difficult since drugged driving hasn’t been studied nearly as much as drunk driving.
“With alcohol, we have 30 years of research looking at the relationship between how much alcohol is in a person’s blood and the odds they will cause a traffic crash,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s traffic safety director. “For drugs, that relationship is not known.”
How Can an Attorney Help If I’ve Been Injured by a Drugged Driver?
The fact that drugged driving is harder to identify than drunk driving makes drugged driving injury claims more complicated. To prove someone was driving under the influence of drugs, you’ll need expert witnesses who can interpret drug test results and explain how the drug played a role in the wreck. The best way to get access to these experts is to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who knows how to handle drugged driving cases.
At Crosley Law, we’ve successfully handled many drugged driving cases. In several of these cases, the police investigation never discovered the presence of drug abuse, and the drug-related causes of the wreck only came to light after a detailed investigation by our team.
To make sure any drug abuse that caused you harm gets uncovered, you should contact Crosley Law right away if you’ve been involved in a car crash and suspect that your injuries were caused by a drugged or drunk driver in San Antonio.
RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: The Drugged Driving Epidemic: How Can You Protect Yourself?
Crosley Law: Fighting for San Antonio Drugged Driving Accident Victims
At Crosley Law, we apply cutting-edge technology and techniques to investigate and develop our clients’ personal injury claims. If a drugged driver injured you or someone you love, please contact us to schedule your free, no-risk consultation. You can either complete our simple online form or call us at 210-LAW-3000 | 210-529-3000 to make your appointment today
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. (2019, June 19). Americans don’t think they’ll get arrested for driving high [press release]. Retrieved from https://readingberks.aaa.com/sites/default/files/news_room/2019-TSCI-News-Release.pdf
Arnold, R. (2019, February 14). Increased ‘drugged driving’ prompts new needs at Houston Crime Lab. Click2Houston. Retrieved from https://www.click2houston.com/news/increased-drugged-driving-prompts-new-needs-at-houston-crime-lab
Bergal, J. (2018, May 31). Drugged driving deaths spike with spread of legal marijuana, opioid abuse. Stateline. Retrieved from https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2018/05/31/drugged-driving-deaths-spike-with-spread-of-legal-marijuana-opioid-abuse
Drunk driving fatality statistics. (n.d.). Responsibility.org. Retrieved from https://www.responsibility.org/alcohol-statistics/drunk-driving-statistics/drunk-driving-fatality-statistics/
Opioid overdose crisis. (2019, January). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
Related ArticlesView All Blog Articles
Delayed Neck Pain After a Car Accident: What It MeansDec 09, 2020
At first, you didn’t think the car wreck was that bad. The driver behind you was texting and driving, and because they weren’t paying attention, they rammed their vehicle into the back of your car. Your head snapped back and forth upon impact, but other than that seemingly minor injury, you walked away from the […]
What Is a Personal Injury Claim? (And Other Frequently Asked Questions)Nov 12, 2020
While you’ve probably heard the phrases “personal injury claim” and “personal injury lawyer” before, you may only have a general understanding of what they mean. Sure, they arise out of an injury, but what does a personal injury lawyer do, and what do these claims involve? At Crosley Law, we’re passionate about personal injury law. […]
Herniated Disc Settlements: What Is My Case Worth in Texas?Nov 04, 2020
Herniated discs. Bulging discs. Slipped discs. There are many names for this common, crash-related injury, but no matter what you call it, the effects can be life-altering. If you’ve suffered a severe spine injury and the insurance company offers you a settlement, you should consult a car accident attorney. Insurance adjusters frequently try to take […]
8 Questions You Should Ask Your Brain Injury LawyerOct 13, 2020
When someone’s negligence causes your brain injury, you deserve accountability and compensation. Often, the first step towards getting the help you deserve is finding the right brain injury lawyer. Here in San Antonio, the Crosley Law team has earned a reputation for a cutting-edge and client-focused approach to brain injury claims. We know how difficult it […]
How Much Do Accident Attorneys Cost?Oct 08, 2020
After a catastrophic accident, your finances can feel very uncertain, especially if you cannot work. Personal injury attorneys know this, and most won’t charge you a fee unless they recover money on your behalf. However, many crash victims are still nervous about the cost of hiring a lawyer, and some victims even try to handle […]
What Should I Bring to a Meeting With an Injury Lawyer?Oct 05, 2020
Many injured people feel stressed before they meet with a lawyer for the first time. This feeling is normal — maybe you’ve never worked with a lawyer before, so it’s a new experience. And, you’re most likely experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety in general after suffering a serious injury. Don’t worry! Any good […]
What to Expect During Discovery in a LawsuitOct 05, 2020
After a serious car crash or another incident, you need answers and compensation for your injuries. To get the justice you deserve, you’ll need to identify who caused your injuries and the extent of their reckless behavior. This isn’t an easy job, but you have powerful legal tools that can help. Discovery gives you access to evidence, […]
Does Mediation Mean Settlement? (And Other FAQs)Sep 11, 2020
Statistically, more personal injury cases settle than go to trial. However, negotiating a settlement is more complicated than making a couple phone calls. At Crosley Law, we carefully investigate our clients’ cases, calculate their damages, and build compelling arguments for their fair compensation. Many times, mediation is part of the settlement process. While you may have heard […]
Do Most Personal Injury Claims Settle Out of Court?Aug 18, 2020
While many personal injury claims settle out of court and prior to a trial, that doesn’t mean you can count on a fair settlement offer. In some instances, the defendant’s insurance company will eventually offer a reasonable and satisfactory settlement. But in many cases, this only happens because the victim hires an experienced personal injury […]
Living With a TBI: A Guide for Survivors and Their Loved OnesAug 06, 2020
It may only take a few weeks to recover from a mild concussion. However, most people with moderate or severe TBIs face a lifetime of challenges. We’ve worked with many TBI survivors, and we know that every brain injury is different. At Crosley Law, we never lump every survivor into a single bucket. We take […]
Do you or a family member
need legal advice?
Crosley Law Firm, PC is a professional corporation of trial lawyers focused on representing individuals and families who have suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death. If you’ve been injured, fill out the form for a free consultation, or call 210-LAW-3000.