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November 11th, 2021

Recently in a Car Crash Involving Drugs? What You Should Know About Drug-Impaired Driving

Driving under the influence of drugs poses a serious danger to everyone on the road and is a serious crime. When someone is injured in a car crash involving drugs, they may be held liable for the accident and be responsible for compensating passengers, property owners, and other drivers involved in the crash.

Let’s discuss the legal definition of drug-impaired driving, the consequences involved, and how to protect your rights if you are involved in this type of accident.

Drugged Driving Defined

Drunk driving is defined by blood alcohol content, with most states considering a driver to be intoxicated at a BAC of 0.08%. However, there are few specific measurements of intoxication by other substances because they can remain in the blood for long periods after use.

Blood tests can detect a wide variety of substances, including cocaine, marijuana, narcotics, and stimulants, but it is unclear at what level these substances impair driving ability. Law enforcement officers will test for drugs, perform field sobriety tests, and observe driving behavior to determine whether an individual is driving under the influence. In the case of serious injuries or fatal crashes, a full investigation is conducted and criminal charges may be filed.

How Common Is Drug-Impaired Driving?

In a 2018 survey, 12.6 million Americans admitted that they drove while impaired by illicit drugs. Another study of highway safety found that 43.6% of drivers who were fatally injured in motor vehicle accidents tested positive for drugs. More than half of those had two or more drugs in their systems.1

Drugged Driving Is a Dangerous Decision

A wide variety of drugs, including prescription drugs, can have a negative impact on driving. Car crashes and traffic fatalities are caused because of these impairments:

  • Slowed reaction times
  • False perceptions of depth and distance
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Aggressive and reckless tendencies
  • Drowsiness and dizziness
  • Losing consciousness
  • Slow decision making
  • Impaired judgment

Serious Injuries Caused by These Car Accidents

These preventable accidents can result in serious personal injury or even death. Other drivers and passengers face life-changing consequences like these:

  • Back, neck, and spinal cord injuries
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Loss of vision, hearing, or cognitive function
  • Broken bones and organ damage
  • Burns and smoke inhalation
  • Loss of a child
  • Death

Who Is Liable for Drug-Related Car Accidents?

If a driver was negligent by driving under the influence of drugs and causes an accident, they may face criminal charges and civil liability. Some of the damages that may be awarded to victims include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of earning potential
  • Damage to vehicles and property
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Short or long term disability

Have You Been Involved in a Drug-Related Car Accident?

If a loved one or you were involved in a car accident involving drugs or alcohol, you will want to understand your rights under the law. Victims should consider seeking legal advice to determine if they should file a lawsuit to preserve their right to fair compensation or wait for criminal charges to be filed.

As with all auto accidents, take pictures, preserve evidence, and do not make statements taking blame for the crash. Seek emergency medical care for anyone who has been injured, and then speak with an experienced personal injury law firm for a free case evaluation.

In Houston, Texas and the surrounding area, contact us at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris LLP for the legal guidance you need with no up-front costs. With more than 45 years of experience in car accident lawsuits, our team can represent your interests through these difficult times and help you receive the compensation you need and deserve.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving
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