It’s illegal in all 50 states to drive while impaired by any substance, legal or illegal, like alcohol, marijuana, or opioids. Even though California allows the recreational use of marijuana, this law still holds. Drivers need to be aware of the various ways that these substances can impair them.
Marijuana, like alcohol, will impair one’s attention, judgment and coordination. This can be especially dangerous for drivers who are supposed to look out for hazards on the road and react to them in time. On the other hand, there is cocaine and crystal meth, both of which can put road users at risk by giving rise to aggression and recklessness.
Drowsiness and dizziness are, obviously, not conducive to safe driving, but they can be caused by certain prescription or over-the-counter medications. Such medications will have a label warning users against “operating heavy machinery,” which includes vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to raise awareness of this danger. In 2018, for instance, it launched a campaign called If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. In its 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey, NHTSA found that 20% of surveyed drivers tested positive for drugs in their system, which was an unprecedented number. However, it does not necessarily mean that 20% of drivers were impaired.
Drug- and/or alcohol-impaired driving are behind numerous motor vehicle accidents, many of which lead to personal injury claims. Even individuals who were partially at fault for their injuries, such as by failing to wear a seatbelt, may be able to file a claim and be compensated for their medical expenses and other economic and noneconomic damages. Any degree of fault, though, will naturally make it harder to negotiate for a settlement. Victims may want a lawyer to assist them with each step.