Driving impaired is illegal and leads to serious crashes on California roadways. However, we know that this occurs every day in our area. Despite significant law enforcement efforts to crack down on impaired driving, thousands of people are injured or killed each year in the state.
However, you may wonder if there is a difference between driving while impaired on alcohol and driving while high on drugs. Today, we want to discuss that as well as give you the statistics we have about impaired driving.
The numbers for California
When it comes to alcohol-impaired driving incidents, drunk drivers were responsible for 31% of all traffic fatalities during the latest reporting year in the state. Additionally, the California Office of Traffic Safety says that over 26,000 people were injured by alcohol-impaired drivers.
When it comes to drugged driving, the statistics get a little harder to parse out. We do know that the number of drivers tested positive for drugs in fatal crashes has decreased from 19% in 2015 to 11% in 2017. In many cases, fatal accidents involved a combination of both alcohol and drugs in a person’s system.
It is not uncommon for us to see the following injuries as a result of impaired driving:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Other head injuries
- Bone fractures
- Loss of or damage to a bodily organ
- Dismemberment or amputation
- Significant disfigurement
- Other injuries that inhibit a person’s daily activities
The bottom line that drivers need to understand is this – driving impaired on alcohol or drugs is illegal. There has been plenty of debate over the last decade about whether or not smoking pot leads to an increase in car accidents. The answer varies depending on what study you look at, but please know that you can be arrested for driving while intoxicated by marijuana.
How will the officers know you are impaired?
Any driver suspected of impairment will be asked to undergo field sobriety tests. They will also be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. While we realize that those on drugs may pass a breathalyzer test, officers are specially trained to recognize drug impairment and can make an arrest based on their findings. You could be required to submit to a blood test if an accident results in serious injuries or a fatality.
What happens after an accident with an impaired driver?
If you are struck by an impaired driver, you could be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries through a civil lawsuit. Yes, the driver’s insurance or your insurance may cover some of your expenses, but they may not cover all of them. You may have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who was impaired.
What kind of compensation is available in these cases?
The goal is to receive compensation for all of your economic and non-economic losses due to the accident. This can include the following:
- Your medical expenses related to the incident
- Lost wages and benefits if you cannot work
- Coverage of physical therapy or rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of personal enjoyment damages
- Possible punitive damages against the impaired driver
If the impaired driver was operating a commercial motor vehicle, you could be entitled to significant compensation. It is vital that you speak to a California car accident attorney about your case as soon as possible.