Florida Car Accidents: Are Drugged Drivers the Latest Peril on the Road?

by Carmen Dellutri on July 25, 2011

Florida driving under influence of drugsWhen Florida drivers consider impaired driving, alcohol is likely the first thing that comes to mind. As a result, many drivers are not aware that driving while under the influence of drugs can also lead to a serious Florida car accident. In fact, the number of fatal car crashes involving drugged drivers has increased dramatically, according to recent statistics.

In fact, the latest study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which used random roadside checks, found that 16.3% of all drivers nationwide at night were on various legal and illegal impairing drugs, half them high on marijuana.

Drugged driving is a particular concern for teen drivers. According to a 2002 survey among teen drivers conducted by SADD, Inc. (Students Against Destructive Decisions/Students Against Driving Drunk) and Liberty Mutual Group, driving after marijuana use is more prevalent (68 percent) than driving after alcohol use (48 percent of those who drink "regularly"). Even more alarming, more than half the teens who reported illegal drug use also reported that they were not concerned about riding in a car with a driver who is using illegal drugs (57 percent).

In addition to problems related to driver education regarding the risks of drugged driving, enforcement problems also exist. While it is illegal in all states to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of alcohol and other drugs, there is no consistent method in Florida (and most other states) for identifying drug impairment. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain just how widespread the problem may be.

"A lot of effort has gone into the study of drugged driving and marijuana, because that is the most prevalent drug, but we are not nearly to the point where we are with alcohol," said Jeffrey P. Michael, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's impaired-driving director in a recent LA Times story. "We don't know what level of marijuana impairs a driver."

While federal scientists are working to develop a method that would allow police to quickly swab saliva from drivers' mouths and determine whether they have an illegal level of marijuana, the research is still years away. Therefore, police must continue to use their professional judgment to evaluate a driver’s behavior and vital signs.

Since drugged driving can often be just as dangerous as drunken driving, we urge all Florida drivers to think twice before driving impaired.

The Dellutri Law Group is focused on making bad situations better and putting lives back together. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Florida motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation.

To learn more about your legal options, contact our experienced injury attorneys for a free consultation.


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