Car crashes are an epidemic in and of themselves. The most recent federal data (from 2016) cites 34,439 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States annually. And while this number is daunting to look at by itself, even more concerning is the number of accidents attributed to driving under the influence of opioids.
Another report by the Governors Highway Safety Association show that as many as 44% of drivers fatally injured in a crash tested positive for drugs in 2016. Almost half! It’s a number that’s up by 28% from a decade earlier and an alarming trend that’s only going to get worse as America’s opioid epidemic continues to surge.
Opioids impair drivers
Most prescribed opioids come with a series of glaring warnings on the label, the first of which is often, “do not drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of this drug.” The reason is simple: opioids dull the nerves and impair reaction times. Many can also cause disorientation, lightheadedness, drowsiness, blurred vision or even confusion.
Behind the wheel, these symptoms become very real impairments that could easily lead to an accident. Mistiming a changing traffic light, not registering a vehicle in the blind spot or failing to read important signage all have very real, very dangerous ramifications.
Despite the warnings and the effects they have, many people still choose to get behind the wheel after taking opioids—whether medicinally or recreationally. For some, it’s because they don’t immediately feel the effects of opioids; for others, it’s simply a matter of reckless abandon.
Prescription and elicit uses are both to blame
Opioids are indiscriminate when it comes to causing car accidents. Whether a person takes prescribed medication or engages in illicit drug use, the impairment is the same and the consequences are dangerous. And, in the event of an accident, the legal ramifications could be on-par for both as well, in the form of a DUI arrest. In fact, in Minnesota, driving with any detectable level of opioid in your bloodstream can result in a DUI, regardless of the nature of the opioid.
What to do if You’ve Been in an Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident caused by someone operating under the influence of opioids—yourself or someone else—it’s imperative you speak with a qualified attorney who can represent your case specifically. Unlike operating under the influence of alcohol or general traffic accident representation, accident suits involving opioids require a different approach.
Depending on the nature of the opioids, the reason for administering them, the dosage and other conditions relating to the accident itself, your case could take a wide range of avenues towards resolution.
Make sure you’re connecting immediately with the qualified legal professionals at Personal Injury Lawyers Minneapolis. We’ll help you navigate the nuances of your specific auto accident case involving opioids—whether you’re the victim of a reckless driver or you yourself have been affected by the unintended consequences of opioid intoxication. Reach us today at 612-504-6145.