Drugged Driving Can Cause Serious Consequences

When the term "driving under the influence" is heard, the first thing that usually comes to mind is alcohol intoxication. But alcohol is only one of the countless substances that can impair an individual's ability to drive. Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs, including prescription medications and illegal substances can cause severe consequences.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, approximately 10 million Americans drive under the influence of drugs each year, making up 18% of fatally injured drivers. Let's examine the top three consequences that drugged driving can cause.

1. Injuries

Simply put, drugged driving puts individuals at higher risk for crashes, often resulting in injuries or fatalities to the occupants of the vehicle or to other individuals involved in the accident. In 2006, approximately 18,000 people died in traffic crashes from driving under the influence, accounting for over 40% of all traffic deaths. Furthermore, drivers can be charged with serious crimes in relation to injuries such as:

●     Murder

●     Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter

●     Criminal negligence

While speeding is one of the greatest contributing factors to traffic injuries and deaths, another common factor is running red lights which most often impacts pedestrians or drivers and passengers of other vehicles.

2. Criminal Prosecution

Although it is more difficult to prosecute motorists who are charged with driving under the influence of drugs rather than alcohol, there are many states that have "per se" drugged driving laws, making it illegal to operate a vehicle with any detectable amount of drugs in one's system. Various jurisdictions across the country also have what's known as "Drug Recognition Experts" who are specially trained officers who follow specific guidelines in order to determine drug impairment. Depending on the circumstances, DUIs can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies with potential penalties significantly differing, including but not limited to:

●     Jail or Prison

●     Fines

●     Probation

●     License Suspension or Revocation

3. Civil Lawsuit

Individuals who drive under the influence of drugs face not only criminal penalties, but can be sued in civil court as well. Injuries caused by drugged driving are frequently the subject of civil suits. This entails a separate and distinct process that can be initiated by victims of drugged drivers to recover damages including costs of:

●     Medical treatment

●     Lost wages

●     Damaged property

●     Other economic damages

●     Money for pain and suffering.

Some states have no-fault laws that require injuries or damages to meet a certain statutory severity while others contain pure negligence laws that enable individuals to file a civil suit against any intoxicated driver for the injuries sustained. Lastly, if an individual is killed due to driving under the influence of drugs, a wrongful death suit can be filed.

Overall, driving under the influence of any substance can have significant consequences that will impact you both in the short term and long term. A criminal conviction from drugged driving can undermine future opportunities such as employment, auto insurance rates, professional relationships, and personal relationships to name a few. Keep these three main consequences in mind when thinking about driving under the influence of drugs.

If you have been charged with a DUI, contact our office to discuss your case with a car accident lawyer Surprise AZ trusts who may be able to reduce or dismiss the charges against you.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Alex & Associates, P.C. for their insight into the consequences of drugged driving.


Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.