Drunk Drivers On the Road Regardless of Busts
Driving through Sarasota’s quiet Gulf Coast communities, the last thing you would expect is to end up in an accident with a drugged driver. Unfortunately, however, illegal drugs continue to be a problem in Sarasota County. In a recent story in the Herald Tribune, Sheriff Tom Knight described a six month police operation recently resulted in the largest-ever seizure of methamphetamine by his department. In connection with the operation, Sarasota deputies made a total of five arrests and took possession of about 8.5 pounds of meth, 454 grams of cannabis, and $163,000.
The unfortunate reality is, every day, Florida drivers make the wrong decision to get behind the wheel and drive under the influence of drugs like marijuana, meth, and heroin. This makes it imperative for responsible drivers in Sarasota to never let their guard down. You might not know you are sharing the road with a drugged driver until it’s too late.
In this post, we discuss the dangers of drugged driving, what to do if you’ve been the victim of a drugged driver, and how the experienced car accident attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA may be able to help.
Drugged Driving Awareness Increases
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), in 2016, drug-impaired drivers caused 934 crashes, killing 440 people, including themselves, their passengers, and others on Florida roads. That data comes on the heels of a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association that in 2016, more drivers tested in fatal traffic accidents had taken legal or illegal drugs that impaired their driving than those who had driven drunk.
Responding to the alarming rise in drugged driving in Florida, earlier this year the DHSMV launched an ad campaign targeting marijuana users in particular that warns drivers: “Drive Baked, Get Busted.” The campaign aims to educate the public, particularly younger and older populations who may use cannabis, of the risks of driving while high, which include:
- A slowed reaction time
- Limited short-term memory functions
- Decrease hand-eye coordination
- Weakened concentration
- Difficulty perceiving time and distance
The dangers of driving under the influence of other drugs are similar. In short, driving high is as dangerous and illegal as driving drunk.
Preventing Drugged Driving Accidents
Increasingly, police are receiving training on conducting field sobriety tests to identify drugged drivers. But ordinary citizens can also contribute to the effort of preventing drugged driving accidents. These include:
Getting educated: Statistics suggest that young people especially don’t appreciate the dangers of drugged driving. The more the public understands that drugged driving is as dangerous and illegal as drunk driving, the better the chance that drivers will make responsible decisions. So spread the word!
Intervening: Just like you would take the keys from a friend stumbling out of a bar, make an effort to prevent friends and family members from getting behind the wheel when they’ve been using marijuana and other (legal or illegal) drugs that will impair their driving.
Report drugged driving: Spotting a drugged driver isn’t so different from spotting a drunk driver. Drugged drivers are erratic. They weave. They speed up and slow down. They may drive very, very slowly, or sit for an unusually long time at traffic lights. If you observe this sort of behavior on the road, call 911 and report it.
When Drugged Driving Accidents Happen in Florida
What happens when a drugged driver injures someone in an accident in Florida? For starters, the authorities will likely arrest and prosecute the drugged driver. Which is good news for the community, but it doesn’t usually directly help the injured victims.
Florida is, for now, a no-fault insurance state. That means, among other things, that to register a car in Florida, every driver must carry at least $10,000 of “personal injury protection” (PIP) coverage that pays for their own injuries in an accident regardless of who is at fault. So, victims of drugged drivers who are covered by PIP insurance can look to that insurance to cover the immediate expenses of their injuries. (Victims covered by PIP insurance must seek medical attention within 14 days for their injuries to ensure the coverage kicks in. Failing to do so can cause all kinds of headaches.)
But what happens if a victim isn’t covered by PIP insurance, or if that insurance isn’t enough to pay the victim’s expenses? Some of those expenses, such as medical care, may be covered by the victim’s health insurance assuming they have it. But other expenses may not be covered, leaving the victim with financial burdens they never asked for and don’t deserve.
In Florida, victims of drugged drivers who have been seriously injured, or the families of drugged driving victims who have died, may be able to file a lawsuit against a drugged driver or other party responsible for the drugged driver (such as the driver’s employer, if the accident happened while the driver was behind the wheel of a company vehicle). An experienced Florida car accident attorney can advise victims and their families about whether a legal action is possible.
When it’s possible to file a legal action to recover damages beyond what is covered by PIP insurance, a victim or victim’s family may be able to receive compensation for:
- Immediate and long-term medical expenses
- Lost wages and lost future earnings
- Pain, suffering, and loss of companionship
- Property damage
In cases in which the drugged driver or other party’s behavior was particularly outrageous, victims and their families may also be entitled to recover “punitive” damages that punish the wrongdoer and ensure that behavior won’t injure others in the future.
Call the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA if a Drugged Driver Injured You
If you or a loved one have been injured in a drugged driving accident in the Sarasota area, the experienced car accident attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA may be able to help. We have represented car accident victims and families in every step of protecting their legal rights and seeking the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Please call us at (941) 210-7586 or contact us online for a free consultation.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
8039 Cooper Creek Blvd
University Park, FL 34201-3007