Drugged driving is a serious and deadly problem. In 2016, an estimated 11.8 million people drove while under the influence of illicit substances. The most common drugs in drivers’ systems involved in accidents are marijuana and prescription drugs, specifically painkillers. The role THC (the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana) plays is unclear, because it can remain in users’ systems for weeks after use. What is clear, however, is that drugged driving takes lives. Learn the laws on drugged driving in West Virginia.
In West Virginia, the Division on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse worked with police to establish policies and guidelines to prevent drugged driving. If someone operates a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance or other drug and/or alcohol in West Virginia, he or she is guilty of a driving under the influence (DUI) crime. The same is true if the driver is a “habitual user of narcotic drugs” and drives. Letting someone borrow a car while knowing that person is under the influence of drugs is also a criminal violation.
In 2017, Senate Bill 386 imposed a per se law making it a crime to operate a vehicle under the influence of marijuana – even if the driver is a state-registered medical cannabis patient. If the driver has 3ng/ml of THC or more in his/her blood, the driver will receive a DUI charge. A per se law means the driver is guilty by breaking the law, even if the drugs do not appear to have an impact on the driver’s abilities to control the vehicle. The new West Virginia medical marijuana laws have many afraid of spikes in drugged driving incidents. Based on statistics, drugged driving has already been on the rise the past few years.
The most recent DUI statistics show that in 2015, for the first time, drugged driving outranked drunk driving in the percentage of people killed in DUI accidents (43% to 37%, respectively). West Virginia is one of five states that split $100,000 in funding from Responsibility.org to improve training on DUI driving for police officers in 2017. The dramatic increase in drugged driving is due to more states legalizing marijuana, as well as the ongoing opioid crisis across America.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. According to an HHS infographic, opioid overdoses killed 42,249 people in 2016. That’s 116 people per day. Opioids include prescription painkillers as well as illicit substances such as heroin. The opioid epidemic is contributing to the increase in drugged driving, in West Virginia and around the country.
If a driver under the influence of drugs causes your car accident in West Virginia, you have options. First, take care of yourself. Go to the hospital and explain what happened. Keep copies of your medical records and police reports. Always call 911 to report a DUI accident. When you can, call your auto insurance company and report the crash. Don’t agree to a recorded statement with the insurance adjuster, and don’t accept a settlement offer without talking to an experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney first.
Call a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can after your wreck. A lawyer can walk you through the steps you need to take, from moments after your accident to the final compensation agreement. An attorney can also take over communications with insurers on your behalf, making sure no one takes advantage of you. Hiring a West Virginia car accident lawyer for a DUI accident can maximize your odds of securing the best possible compensation award in an insurance settlement or personal injury case. Discuss your drugged driving accident case with an attorney today.