In our over 26 years of experience as Las Vegas personal injury attorneys, we have seen our fair share of car accidents caused by drivers who were impaired or high on drugs, both illegal and legal drugs. A while back ago, the Las Vegas car accident attorneys at D.R. Patti & Associates represented the families of two victims of a car accident caused by an individual who was under the influence of prescription drugs. The at fault party was so high she did not even realize she had hit another car and killed one of the victims. In another case, our Las Vegas personal injury lawyers represented an individual who was rear-ended by a Porsche driving at 70 miles per hour at least. The police questioned the Porsche driver, who kept falling asleep, and ultimately the driver admitted to having taken Ambien, a sleeping pill, within 30 minutes before driving. In another case, a client was injured when her car was rear-ended; the person who rear-ended her apologized profusely and asked her not to call the police, saying that he was on new prescription pain medications and should not be driving.
It is no surprise that certain legal prescription medications can affect driving ability. At this day and age, we should be familiar with the warnings that accompany many prescription drugs against the operating of machinery—including motor vehicles. This means that certain medications, even when taken legally and according to doctor’s instructions, can cause car accidents.
Despite such warnings, driving under the influence of such medications, alone or in combination with alcohol, the number of people found to drugged driving remain relatively significant. The 2007 National Roadside Surgery by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 16% of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for medications, whether illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter.
A 2009 NHTSA study found that 18% of drivers who died as a result of a motor vehicle accident tested positive for at least one drug. This represented an increase of 5% from the 13% in a 2005 NHTSA survey.
The number of people driving under the influence and not caught is even greater. Results from a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that about 4.2%, or approximately 10.5 million people 12 years and older, self-reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs. For those 18 to 25 years old, the percentage is even greater, rising to 12.8%.
A problem with apprehending drugged drivers is that there is no test like a breathalyzer that can be performed, investigating law enforcement officers must look for other outward signs of drug impairment, such as by performing field sobriety tests. Education of drivers against the dangers of driving while under the influence of medication, whether legal or illegal, should hopefully help curb these incidences.
Under Nevada law, drivers don’t have to “blow” the legal limit for drugs or alcohol to be impaired. Section 484C.110 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) prohibits driving under the influence of any combination of substances that renders the driver unfit to drive. Such substances include properly prescribed pain medication. The statute, NRS § 484C.110, provides in pertinent part as follows:
NRS 484C.110. Unlawful acts; affirmative defense; additional penalty for violation committed in work zone.
. . .
- It is unlawful for any person who:
(a) Is under the influence of a controlled substance;
(b) Is under the combined influence of intoxicating liquor and a controlled substance; or
(c) Inhales, ingests, applies or otherwise uses any chemical, poison or organic solvent, or any compound or combination of any of these, to a degree which renders the person incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle, to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access. The fact that any person charged with a violation of this subsection is or has been entitled to use that drug under the laws of this State is not a defense against any charge of violating this subsection.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Las Vegas that was caused by a driver under the influence of drugs then call and speak to a car accident lawyers at D.R. Patti & Associates.