At the start of 2012, we published findings from a Centers for Disease Control study that showed binge drinking among adults is increasing– and those binge drinkers are continuing to drive while intoxicated.  Now, Prevention magazine reports that a growing number of Americans are impaired by prescription drugs, and they are endangering others on the highway with “drugged driving.” 

According to the December 2011 article, while drunk driving deaths have fallen over the last 20 years, the number of potentially driver impaired (PDI) vehicle accidents is on the “upswing.” These impaired drivers may be under the influence of illegal drugs such as marijuana or methamphetamines, but more often they are impaired by prescription medications.

“We need to raise awareness about the grave danger of taking medication and getting behind the wheel of your car, even if you haven’t consumed any alcohol and it is a prescribed medication,” said Philip DeBerard, III, whose team of Florida personal injury lawyers represents car accident victims throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast.

These people are “ordinary” drivers who do not knowingly get behind the wheel impaired, and in many cases, they do not even realize they are impaired until they are involved in a serious accident.  In fact, the number of drugged drivers has become so prevalent that the International Association of Chiefs of Police has created a drug-recognition (DRE) program for law enforcement.

A drug-impaired driver may actually pass a field sobriety test, even though it is obvious to the officer that the person is under the influence. The DRE program trains law enforcement to evaluate suspects and determine if the person is impaired, what drug, or category of drugs, is causing the impairment or whether a medical condition is causing the impairment.

Nationwide, there are close to 6,500 certified DRE officers.  In Florida, there are fewer than 400.

“When you consider the scope of the drugged driving problem, our state should classify it as a separate offense and certainly dedicate more resources to police to help them reduce and ultimately eliminate this threat to public safety,” DeBerard said.

A drugged driver is subject to the same stiff penalties as a drunk driver. If a person causes a vehicle crash while impaired by a drug, including over-the-counter and prescription medication, he may also be held legally responsible in a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Jennifer A. Reinhold, PharmD, assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of Sciences at Philadelphia and a Prevention Advisory Board Member, said, “The responsibility for making patients aware that drugs may impair driving is shared.” She said that physicians and pharmacists should warn patients of the possibilityof drowsiness, blurred vision, and impaired judgment from the prescribed medicine.  She added that is the patient’s responsibility to properly use the information.

For more information on this serious hazard, see “Florida Injury Attorney Calls Attention to Dangers of Drugged Driving.”

Turn To An Experienced Florida Accident Injury Lawyer

If you have been injured in a Florida traffic accident caused by a drunk or drugged driver, contact a car accident attorney who has helped many injury victims recover from serious automobile accidents. I am attorney Philip DeBerard. I have more than three decades of legal experience representing people injured in car accidents and other personal injury claims.

At the law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, we pride ourselves on providing one-on-one attention to people across South Florida and the Treasure Coast. Our law firm represents victims of drunk driving accidents across South Florida, including StuartPort St. LucieOkeechobeeFort PierceJupiter, Palm Beach and Vero Beach and throughout South Florida and the Treasure Coast.

Call 1-800-299-8878 now to speak with a Florida car accident attorney or fill out our online contact form.