“Driving under the influence” typically brings alcohol to mind (and for good reason—29 million Americans reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year). But driving under the influence of drugs is a serious and deadly problem in itself.
More than 10 million people age 12 and older reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year, representing 3.9 percent of adolescents and adults, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that more than 18 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs in 2009.
The widespread nature of drugged driving represents a pivotal time for the U.S. Police and prosecutors are cracking down on driving under the influence, and holding the guilty parties accountable is the only way to cut down on drugged driving in the long-term. No family should suffer because of the negligence and recklessness of a drugged driver. If you or a loved one has been injured in a drug-related car accident, contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi. Our experienced team of trial attorneys will thoroughly investigate your case and fight aggressively for you and your family. Call (201) 585-9111 or fill out an online inquiry to schedule your free and confidential consultation today.
Drugged Driving Under New Jersey Law
Under New Jersey law, a driver is guilty of driving under the influence if he or she operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor (with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or above), narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug. Someone is also guilty of driving under the influence if she or she allows another person who is under the influence of alcohol, narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug to operate a motor vehicle owned by him or in his custody.
State v. Tamburro (1975) held that a person can be convicted of driving under the influence even if the particular drug is not identified, so long as expert testimony concerning the physical condition, mental state, and symptoms of the driver prove his or her driving ability was impaired. However, State v. Tiernan (1973) determined that a normal police officer does qualify as a narcotics expert just because of mandatory narcotics training and a week-long narcotics course. (In other words, a police officer with extensive training in narcotics may be able to identify a drugged driver without the use of a urine or blood test, but most police officers are not experienced enough in narcotics detection to do so.)
The Department of Transportation set a“per se” standard for illegal drug use in 1988, meaning any evidence of recent illegal drug use is a violation of the law for commercial drivers, airline pilots, and train engineers.
Drugged Driving Injuries
The presence of drugs in a driver’s system severely impacts physical and mental functions. Depending on the type and amount of drugs consumed, drivers can 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.
Motor vehicle accidents can cause a wide variety of injuries, and the mental and physical effects listed above only make matters worse. Car accidents can result in:
- Brain and head injuries
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Facial injuries
- Internal injuries
- Psychological injuries
- Wrongful death
Winning a Drugged Driving Lawsuit
First and foremost, it is important to keep the New Jersey statute of limitations in mind when pursuing a civil suit. From the date of the car accident, you have two years to file a lawsuit against another driver; if you fail to file suit within the two-year statute of limitations, New Jersey courts will refuse to hear your case and you could lose out on your right to compensation.
Proving fault in a DUI case is sometimes easier than in other personal injury cases. If police came to the scene of the accident, an accident report is typically written up. If the impaired driver was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, the police have done most of the work in proving the driver’s negligence.
In order to win a drugged driving lawsuit, you must prove:
- The defendant breached his or her duty of care (meaning he or she acted outside the realm of how a “reasonable person” would behave behind the wheel)
- You suffered injuries
- The defendant’s conduct was the cause of your injuries
Monetary awards in drugged driving lawsuits are typically compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the injured party for the financial and emotional costs of the accident, such as:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance and hospitalization costs, rehabilitation, surgeries, and any cost of ongoing or future care
- Lost wages, including compensation for missed work and decreased earning potential as a result of ongoing disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life, including inability to perform day-to-day activities, decreased enjoyment of usual pursuits, and loss of consortium
Contact Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi
Driving under the influence of drugs is a serious offense, and the reckless driver should be held accountable for his or her actions. If you or a loved one suffered injuries as the result of a drugged-driving accident, you are entitled to compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi have more than 80 years’ worth of trial experience and success, including a number of multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements. With Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, you can always expect the highest level of dedication and legal expertise—both in and out of the courtroom.
Call (201) 585-9111 or fill out an online inquiry to start on the road to recovery. Your initial consultation is always free and confidential, and there are no fees due until we win your case. Trust Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi to fight for you and your family during this difficult time.