The Dangers of Drugged Driving
The risks of drunk driving are well-known, but many are not familiar with the risks associated with drugged driving. Since certain illegal and legal drugs are more difficult to detect, drugged driving can be more challenging to prevent and enforce.
Yet, like drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs is illegal and comes with serious penalties. It is important to know how drugs impair driving and what to do if you are involved in a drugged driving car accident in New Jersey.
How do Drugs Impair Driving?
Different types of legal and illegal drugs change a driver’s ability to physically operate a moving vehicle and make sound, safe decisions while driving.
Many prescription and over-the-counter drugs have dangerous side effects, including extreme drowsiness. Drowsy driving is just as bad as drunk or drugged driving. If you feel fatigued, it is crucial to safely pull over to the side of the road.
Additionally, cocaine and methamphetamines speed up the body’s functions, making drivers more likely to speed and engage in other aggressive behaviors. Speeding can cause serious accidents, so it is important to never drive while under the influence, and always maintain a safe speed.
Alcohol, marijuana, and opioids slow reaction time, reduce coordination, and impair judgement, which is just as dangerous as speeding. If you cannot drive, use a rideshare service or have a family member or friend drive you to your destination.
Drugged Driving is a Growing Problem in New Jersey
Over the past decade, the number of people driving under the influence of drugs has increased considerably. In fact, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more drivers tested positive for drugs than alcohol during the years of 2015 and 2016. In 2016 alone, 103 drivers in fatal motor vehicle accidents tested positive for drugs compared to 92 drivers who tested positive for alcohol.
Nearly 20 percent of those drivers tested positive for cannabinoids, the active chemicals in medical marijuana. This is especially concerning since New Jersey legalized medicinal marijuana in 2010. Since that time, medical marijuana laws have expanded to cover a wide range of physical and emotional conditions. If the state legalizes recreational marijuana, the number of drugged drivers on state roadways could increase significantly.
Since marijuana has become more socially acceptable and legal in several states, many people assume it is safe to drive under the influence of cannabis; however, this is not the case. Research shows drivers under the influence of marijuana have trouble tracking lanes, judging time and distance, and have a notably slower reaction time.
What are New Jersey’s Drugged Driving Laws and Penalties?
It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle in New Jersey with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher or under the influence of hallucinogens, alcohol, or narcotics.
Operating a motor vehicle is considered the attempt and intent to drive, even if the vehicle has not left the parking spot. If you put your keys in the ignition while you are drunk or high, you risk a DWI/DUI charge.
Penalties for a DWI/DUI charge in New Jersey vary, depending how many offenses you have committed in the past and how much time has passed since your last offense. Generally, a first offense includes the following penalties:
- Thirty days in jail
- Fines ranging between $250 to $400 and more when drugs are involved
- Time in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center Program
- Three-month license suspension and more if drugs are involved
If there are extenuating circumstances surrounding your offense, like it happened in a school zone or you have a BAC of 0.10% or higher, penalties will be more severe.
DUI cases are more complex because certain legal and illegal drugs are challenging to detect. Law enforcement officials use on-the-site observations and field sobriety tests in most cases to determine if a driver is drugged. However, these are not always precise methods for detecting impairment.
What do I do if I am Involved in a Drugged Driving Accident?
If you suspect the driver who caused your car accident was impaired by alcohol or drugs, you should immediately contact a lawyer. A lawyer will ensure every aspect of your case is explored to achieve the best possible resolution.
South Jersey Car Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Represent Clients Injured by Drugged Drivers
Drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, even if the drug is legal. Drugged driving crashes are entirely preventable and the individuals who put others lives in danger should be held accountable. Our South Jersey car accident lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm understand the law when it comes to drugged driving. We will explore every possible angle to recover the compensation you deserve after a crash. Call us at 609-926-3300 or complete our online form for a free consultation. Located in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Atlantic City, Linwood, Galloway Township, Cape May, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, Ocean City, and Woodbury.