Sadly, the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health discovered that an estimated 9.9 million people admitted to driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the previous year. This number is simply unacceptable.
Driving under the influence of any mind-altering drug, including prescription drugs, is extremely dangerous. Remember, drugged driving can cause delays in motor skills, balance and coordination, perception, attention, reaction time and judgment.
We bring this up because in an update of a blog post we brought you last month, a Silver Spring man who struck a pedestrian in front of the U.S. Government Accountability Office may have been under the influence of prescription medications at the time of the crash.
James Chandler, 33, allegedly told authorities that he had undergone dental surgery prior to the crash. He also allegedly told investigators that he was taking Motrin, Percocet, antibiotics, Tripatol, Lexapro and Adderall at some point before the accident.
Following the accident, officers said that Chandler appeared unfocused and slow moving, consistent with the signs of drug abuse. During the crash, Chandler’s SUV flipped several times, striking 27-year-old Philip Snodgrass, who died from massive blunt force trauma.
Chandler has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. However, if an investigation determines that he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash, he may face additional charges.
As this case allegedly shows, drugged driving can be extremely dangerous. Often, people think the only way you can be under the influence while driving a vehicle is through alcohol; however, this idea is simply incorrect.
Just as you can be held liable for any injuries or deaths caused while driving under the influence of alcohol, if you drive under the influence of any drug, you may face criminal charges and lawsuits. If you are taking a prescription medication and think it could affect your ability to operate a vehicle, you should seek a designated driver or make alternative transportation plans.
Remember, if you are ever injured in a drugged or drunk driving accident, it may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney. As we mentioned above, people who negligently use drugs or alcohol while operating a vehicle can be held liable for accidents they cause. This means you could potentially seek damages for your injuries or the loss of your loved one.
Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P.