Drugged Driving vs. Drunk Driving

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the technical name of a drunk driving criminal charge is operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There is no question that driving while on drugs can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated with liquor.

marijuana-plant-52691-mThis is the focus of recent article from CNN. According to the author, driving under the influence of marijuana has increased, as has driving under the influence of other types of drugs. National statistics show that the percentage of drugged driving rose from just over 12 percent on 2007 to more than 15 percent last year and the year before. This data did not come from chemical testing of suspects after they were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but rather the results of voluntary roadside surveys conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety information (NHTSA). It was not only based upon questions asked of the drivers, but blood and saliva samples were also taken.

It is interesting that people under the influence of drugs would agree to have their blood or salvia taken by members of NHTSA on the side of the road; however, as our Boston drunk driving attorneys understand, alcohol and drugs do negatively affect one’s decision-making process, and that might include agreeing to submit samples.

Test results showed that the most commonly found drug in surveyed drivers’ systems was marijuana, and that accounted for around 35 percent of the results. Amphetamines accounted for around 10 percent of positive drug results, but this can included people who legally take stimulants for ADHD. However, it should be noted that many people believe it is okay to drive a drug simply because the drug was prescribed by a doctor. This is not true. If a drug causes drowsiness or intoxication symptoms, it is not legal for a patient to drive under the influence of that drug. For example, if a patient takes prescription opioids for pain control and then gets behind the wheel, and that drug causes the driver to have an accident, it would be no different that if that driver were on another opioid, like illegal heroin.

There is one problem with drugged driving in terms of a car accident lawsuit. A positive test for drugs in one’s system is not the same a positive test for alcohol. Alcohol does not stay in person’s system for more than a day, and the higher the concentration in one’s blood, the more a person is under the influence of alcohol. If a person smokes marijuana, it will be in his her blood for several weeks. Technically, it is not even the THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana, but a metabolite that shows up on a blood test. In other words, a test for marijuana will not show that person is currently under the influence of marijuana, or more importantly was while driving, as it will only show past marijuana use. For this reason, it will be necessary to look at other behavior to prove the at-fault driver was high.

If you have been injured in a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.

Additional Resources:

Driving while drugged now just as deadly as drunk driving, October 1, 2015, CNN, by Carina Storrs

More Blog Entries:

Alleged Drunk Driver Crashes into Saugus, Massachusetts Home, Aug. 21, 2014, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog

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