There are strict laws and procedures in place to deal with the use of alcohol behind the wheel, but drugged driving is less clearly defined. Obviously, illegal street drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, and the ‘high’ they result in, have dramatic impacts. What most people do not realize is that prescription and over the counter medications can significantly impair your judgement as well, making car accidents and serious personal injuries more likely to occur.
South Carolina Laws Against Drugged Driving
Under Section 56-5-2930 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, it is against the law to drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any combination of the two, to the point that your abilities as a driver are impaired. As one of the leading causes of car accidents and injuries, impaired driving penalties often include heavy fines, mandatory counseling, driver’s license suspension, and a potential jail sentence.
While blood alcohol content (BAC) and field sobriety testing can be used to easily detect if a driver has had too much to drink, detecting the impact of legitimately prescribed or over the counter medications can be more problematic. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), side effects of many common types of medicines include sleepiness, blurred vision, inability to concentrate, decreased reaction times, and increased agitation. Medicines that may cause these effects include the following:
Tranquilizers and blood pressure medications
Allergy, sinus, and cold relief tablets and cough syrups
Medications to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety
Diet pills and other types of stimulant supplements
On their own, any of the above can cause significant impairments to your driving ability. Paired with alcohol, the effects they produce can be particularly deadly.
Car Accidents Caused By Drugged Driving
Recently released studies into drug impaired driving conducted by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) indicate that drugs were detected in the blood stream of nearly 50 percent of all drivers involved in fatal car accidents. Unfortunately, the precise impact of over the counter and prescription medicines in relation to the frequency of car accidents is difficult to gauge. The GHSA reports that drugged driving is more of a complex issue than that of drunk driving, for the following reasons:
There are hundreds of drugs available on the market
There are no standardized tests for law enforcement to detect drugged driving
The rate of impairment caused by a particular drug tends to vary among users
It is generally more difficult to prosecute and convict someone for driving under the influence of drugs
Get Help Today
If you suffer injuries in a car accident and suspect that drugged driving may have played a role, contact the Surasky Law Firm, LLC right away. We can arrange a free consultation with our Aiken, SC car accident attorney to discuss your best course of action and the types of compensation you may be entitled to.