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Drugged Driving Growing Problem in New York

Published February 23, 2012 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

Earlier this month, we reported on New York Sen. Charles Schumer’s call to take on the growing threat posed by drugged drivers on New York highways. Impaired driving is a constant battle fought by NY law enforcement, and the NY senator is calling for funds to help combat the problem. A December article in Prevention magazine also addresses drugged driving and points out the struggle law enforcement has with this growing safety issue.

Our Binghamton car accident attorneys fully support all initiatives offered by the state or federal governments to combat the dangers of drunk and drugged drivers on our highways. We ask that all drivers stay alert for erratic drivers – a sign of impaired driving – and to not drive unless you are sure that you are fully alert and capable of driving safely.

According to the Prevention article, drunk driving deaths have fallen over the last 20 years, but the number of potentially driver impaired vehicle accidents is on the “upswing.” Many of these accidents, the article points out, are caused by “ordinary people” taking prescription medicines.

Many people are getting behind the wheel and simply do not realize the drugs they are taking have made them just as dangerous as a drunk driver. Some don’t even realize they are impaired until they are involved in a serious accident. The number of drugged drivers has become so prevalent, in fact, that the International Association of Chiefs of Police has created a drug-recognition program for law enforcement.

A driver who is impaired by over-the-counter or prescription medicines may actually pass a field sobriety test, or register a low BAC, even though it is obvious to the officer that the person is under the influence. A drug recognition expert or drug recognition evaluator (DRE) is a police officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. DRE officers are specially trained to 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.

“Law enforcement officers commonly see people who have no idea how unsafe prescribed drugs have made their driving,” says Chuck Hayes, regional DRE coordinator for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “They don’t realize that they shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car until it’s brought to their attention – often dramatically.”

Senator Schumer recognizes this issue. In his press release calling for funds for New York police officers to better deal with the drugged driving problem, he says, “With the explosive growth of prescription drug abuse it’s vital that local law enforcement have the tools and training they need to identify those driving under the influence of narcotics to get them off the road. We have made tremendous progress in combating drunk driving, we cannot allow those gains to be erased by drugged drivers.”

Prevention offers the following tips for avoiding drugged driving while on prescription medicines:

  • Don’t drive for the first week after starting a new medication. This gives you time to adjust to the medication and understand the effects it may have on your reaction time.
  • Educate yourself about the medicines you are taking. Read the bottle, read the information sheet and ask your doctor or pharmacist if you still have questions.
  • Don’t mix alcohol with your medicines. This can be a one-two punch, and even with just one drink, your ability to drive safely can be severely impaired.
  • Don’t get behind the wheel of a car if you have any doubt about feeling fully alert.

As always, we ask that all drivers on our New York highways drive defensively and only when fully alert. Whether you have had alcohol, are on a prescription medicine or are over-tired, please don’t drive.

Contact Our Binghamton Injury Law Attorneys Today

Experience counts. If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries in a New York accident due to a drugged or impaired driver, contact Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney, to help. Our New York personal injury law office handles all types of accident, injury and medical malpractice cases.

As you work on recovering from your injuries, let our Binghamton, New York accident attorney’s office take care of the rest, including the paperwork, insurance documents and other legal issues related to your accident. Contact our personal injury attorney today at (607) 235-2754 or use our online contact form. There is no charge for the consultation.

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