When most people think of “driving under the influence,” they think of alcohol. However, driving under the influence of drugs is all too common in the U.S., and it can spell serious danger for other drivers on the road.
More than 10 million people reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year, representing 3.9 percent of adolescents and adults, in the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 18 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs in 2009.
Title 39 of the New Jersey Statutes deals with driving while intoxicated in the state of New Jersey. This statute makes it a crime to “operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug.” This same statute prohibits you from allowing another person who is under the influence to operate your vehicle or a vehicle you are riding in.
Driving under the influence of drugs can have a severe impact on the driver’s physical and mental functions. Depending on the amount of drugs—and the type of drug—consumed, someone may experience decreased coordination, insufficient response and reaction times, reduced ability to make quick judgments, reduced capacity to avoid hazards, difficulty staying in one’s lane, difficulty judging distance from other vehicles, reduced attention span, decreased ability to process information, and warped perception of the driving environment.
If you are injured in a car accident due to someone else driving under the influence of marijuana, you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. Proving fault in a DUI case is often easier than in other personal injury cases because of police involvement; if police came to the scene of the accident, an accident report is usually written up, and if the impaired driver was arrested for driving under the influence, the police have done most of the work in proving negligence.
In order to win a drugged driving lawsuit, you must prove:
- The defendant breached his or her duty of care (i.e. he or she acted outside the realm of how a “reasonable person” would behave behind the wheel)
- You were injured
- The defendant’s conduct while driving was the direct cause of your injuries
Personal injury claims come down to “damages,” or the monetary award given to the plaintiff to compensate him or her for the injuries and harm caused by the accident. Compensatory damages in a drugged driving claim may include medical expenses (including ambulance and hospitalization costs, surgeries, rehabilitation, and any ongoing or future care), lost wages (including compensation for missed work and decreased earning potential for the future), pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life (such as inability to perform day-to-day activities and decreased enjoyment of usual pursuits).
If you have questions about driving under the influence and your rights as a plaintiff, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi. Your initial consultation is free and confidential, and no fees are due until we win your case.