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Drug-impaired driving: an overview

In New York, it is illegal to drive while impaired under any substance, legal or illegal. As more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana, though, it’s expected that the problem of drug-impaired driving will become more widespread. Below are some points that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration makes about drug-impaired driving.

Various drugs can impair in different ways. With alcohol and marijuana, a driver may find it harder to pay attention, make proper judgments on the road and react to hazards. Cocaine and methamphetamines, on the other hand, impair judgment by making a person more aggressive. Then there are certain prescription or over-the-counter medications that can induce drowsiness or cause dizziness.

Drivers must be aware that marijuana, in particular, will impair driving despite rumors that attest to the contrary. The NHTSA is continuing to study the link between marijuana use and crash risk; it acknowledges that crash risk may partly go up because marijuana users tend to be young men, who are already at a heightened risk of getting involved in an accident.

Marijuana use among drivers is only increasing. A series of NHTSA surveys has shown an increase in drivers testing positive for marijuana between 2007 and 2014. Marijuana use is not necessarily synonymous with impairment, but in any event, drivers must be aware and should look out for friends who become impaired.

When impaired driving is behind motor vehicle accidents, those who are seriously injured through little or no fault of their own may be able to pursue a third-party insurance claim. It may be wise to hire a lawyer, though, since not everyone can file such a claim in this state. If hired, the lawyer might have third-party investigators and other experts come in to strengthen the case before speaking on victims’ behalf at the negotiation table.