Though everyone knows about the danger and irresponsibility of getting behind the wheel after drinking, few people talk about the similar risks associated with drugged driving. It’s about time that changes given the increasing occurrence of medication-related wrecks on North Carolina roadways.
One recent example includes a Fayetteville, NC man who is now in jail on drug charges after a car crash involving a Bladen County Sheriff’s deputy. The Sheriff’s Office says a deputy stopped Darnell James Callwood, 27, last month after Callwood allegedly failed to stop for a stop sign just after midnight and ended up crashing into the deputy. During a search of the car, the officer found 38 packaged plastic bags of marijuana and several bags of cocaine.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the problem of impaired driving is not limited to alcohol. Driving under the influence of prescription drugs raises many of the same concerns given that powerful medication can act on the brain to impair a person’s motor skills, reaction time and judgment. Drugged driving is a public health concern because it puts not only the driver at risk, but also passengers and others who share the road.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2007 National Roadside Survey, more than 16% of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medications while more than 11% tested positive for illicit drugs. Another NHTSA study found that in 2009, among fatally injured drivers, 18% tested positive for at least one, a number that marked a 13% increase from 2005. These results indicate that not enough has been done to educate the public about the true danger of driving under the influence of medication.
Despite the information available regarding the danger of drugged driving, the nation’s laws have yet to reflect the severity of the crime. Though alcohol detection is relatively easy, the presence of illicit drugs is more difficult to measure and there is no agreed upon impairment limit. Many states, including North Carolina, don’t list specific requirements for what measurements of substances amount to intoxicated driving the way that 0.08% blood alcohol concentration is specified for alcohol-related arrests. Instead, North Carolina General Statutes Annotated § 20-138.1(a) vaguely says that a person commits the offense of impaired driving if he or she drives while under the influence of an impairing substance or, more specifically, with any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance in his or her blood or urine.
As North Carolina car accident attorneys who handle drinking and driving automobile accidents routinely, it’s tragic to see increasingly frequent instances of yet another category of impaired driving in the state. Sadly, we too often see the life changing results that occur when people make the deadly decision to drive while impaired. If you, or someone you know, have any questions regarding personal injury claims, please feel free to contact the experienced car wreck lawyers in Charlotte, North Carolina at Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation. Call at 704-370-2828.
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