There are many substances drivers may use that can impair their ability to operate a vehicle, whether legal, controlled or otherwise. Driving while intoxicated or under the influence doesn’t just pertain to substances like alcohol and marijuana. It is possible for drivers to be held criminally and civilly liable if they are taking any medication or substance that has altered their abilities to drive safely. The Chicago car accident injury attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC know how the law applies to these situations and can prove negligence in the event you are injured by a driver who used any substance in an irresponsible manner.
Drugged Driving is a Serious Safety Problem
While drunk driving gets most of the attention in driving-impaired accidents, drugged driving presents the same risks and hazard to public safety. According to the NHSTA, about 22% of drivers have at some point driven while under the influence of some mind-altering substance. Some of these drivers were using illegal substances like cocaine, heroin or LSD while others were on prescription drugs or over the counter medications that can alter their mental state.
It is important to understand the effects of taking medications and be aware of how any prescription drug affects you prior to operating any type of machinery or vehicle. Many of the drivers who find themselves liable for drugged driving were taking medications prescribed to them. They underestimated the impact that the drug had on their ability to safely operate a vehicle before injuring innocent people in the process.
What the Law States Concerning Drugged Driving
According to 625 ILCS 5/11-501, nobody may operate a vehicle if under the influence of any intoxicating compound or combination of compounds which impact his or her driving abilities. Many medications cause drowsiness, affect depth perception, cause dizziness or reduce reaction time in a manner similar to alcohol. Street drugs have even more pronounced effects and there is no excuse for drivers who place others at risk by getting high and driving.
What is most alarming, however, is that many drivers seem to be oblivious to how common medications impact their driving abilities. Almost half of the motorists tested for substances following an accident had some form of prescription medication in their systems. In some cases, their driving abilities were impaired due to drug interactions while in others; it was due to deliberate drug misuse.
Types of Medications that Impact Driving Ability
In order to prevent causing an accident while under the influence of mind-altering substances, it is important to understand what type of medications are most likely to have an impact on your mental state. Before you operate a vehicle while taking any drug, you should take it at home and determine what effects it has on your body. Here are the types of medications and drugs that can affect your driving abilities.
- Prescription pain relievers and medications for anxiety -- Some medications like Vicodin, OxyContin, Valium or Xanax can impair your ability to drive by causing drowsiness or blurring your vision. If you need to take these drugs, you should consider alternate forms of transportation.
- Street drugs -- It goes without saying that drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, morphine, and methamphetamines all have marked effects on our mental state. These drugs never mix well with the operation of machinery and motor vehicles.
- Over the counter medications. These drugs are most likely to surprise drivers who never suspect that a dose of cold or allergy medication can impair their ability to drive. Always make sure that you take the correct dosage and avoid driving if you feel drowsy or dizzy after taking an over the counter drug.
Seeking Compensation Following an Accident With a Drug-Impaired Driver
If you have been in a car accident, it is important to collect as much information as possible to establish fault. The fact that the other driver was under the influence of any type of substance can be critical to your case and will make it much more likely that you receive all of the financial compensation you deserve to fully recover the costs of your medical bills, time lost from work, incidental expenses, and property damage.
Our award winning Chicago car accident injury attorneys have extensive experience handling drugged driving cases and a strong record of successful monetary recoveries for clients with cases like yours. Contact us today to arrange a free consultation so that we can review all legal options with you and let you know what you can expect in your case. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you are assured that you will never be required to pay an attorney’s fee unless we are able to secure compensation on your behalf.
For information on Illinois drunk driving accidents involving injuries, look at our Drunk Driving Accident FAQs.