Do You Get Drug Tested After a Car Accident?

Do You Get Drug Tested After a Car Accident?

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Do You Get Drug Tested After a Car Accident?

When you're in a car accident, and you believe the other driver behaved erratically right before or in the aftermath of an accident, it's natural to wonder, "do you get drug tested after a car accident?" You might be particularly concerned if the accident seriously injured yourself or any of your passengers. After all, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol in an accident would almost certainly mean they are at fault and, thus, responsible for paying medical expenses and other losses.

Responding officers evaluate the scene of an accident and determine if anyone involved might have been impaired. However, when serious injuries occur, vital clues may be overlooked during the flurry of paramedic activity and the chaos of scattered car debris, gathering crowds, and blocked traffic. Suppose the behavior that indicates drug use is missed. In that case, a drug user might get away without being held accountable for their negligent actions.

On the other hand, if you were in an accident and were forced to do a drug test without probable cause, your Fourth Amendment rights may have been violated. In either scenario, Morgan and Morgan Law Firm is here to protect your rights and make wrongdoers pay for their misdeeds.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

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  • What Is Under the Influence of Drugs?

    Law enforcement has a process to test for the presence of and amount of alcohol an individual may have in their system through a breath, urine, or blood test. These tests are used to determine if the individual is breaking the law by driving with an unlawful amount of alcohol in their system. In most instances, if an officer suspects alcohol is involved after an accident, they can give a field sobriety test or have the individual submit to a breathalyzer. However, these tests reveal the most current levels of intoxication.

    For drugs like heroin and cocaine, or even prescription medications, blood and urine tests are the only way to detect the presence of these drugs. Even so, once discovered, it doesn't necessarily mean the individual was under the influence at the time of the accident, as these drugs remain in the system long after consumption.

    While a blood alcohol content above 0.08% is the legal standard for DUIs in all states, there is no measurable national standard for being under the influence of drugs while operating a motor vehicle.

    Even so, some members of law enforcement are trained to recognize sensory clues of drug impairment. 

  • What Is a Drug Recognition Expert?

    A drug recognition expert (DRE) is a member of law enforcement that has undergone training to detect and identify individuals under the influence of drugs. They are also able to classify what category of drug is causing the impairment, such as depressants or stimulants. Suppose a responding officer suspects some impairment by one of the drivers involved in a car accident, yet the breath alcohol test does not explain the impairment. In that case, a DRE may be called to the scene.

    The DRE will first try to ascertain if the subject may be acting off because of a sustained injury. If the DRE determines an injury is an issue, the subject will be dispatched to seek medical assistance immediately. If not, the DRE will continue its investigation by asking questions about any recent intake of drugs, including legally obtained medications.

    They will look at the subject's eyes to see if there are obvious signs like dilated pupils or an inability to track a moving object. They may also check the subject's pulse, temperature, and blood pressure. The DRE will look for other signs, including slurring, lack of coordination, or muscle rigidity.

    Suppose the DRE determines the subject is under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident. In that case, the subject will likely be Mirandized, arrested, and sent off for a toxicology exam.

    Still, a police officer that has successfully completed DRA training may not be available for every accident where drugs might be part of the problem. Some states may operate with as few as 24 certified DREs. 

  • How Does Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Causes Accidents?

    Driving under the influence of drugs like cocaine, meth, opioids, and cannabis impacts your ability to function as well as when sober which is crucial to operating responsibly. Even prescription medications can interfere with the ability to be a safe driver. Yet, people will continue to drive under the influence because they are irresponsible or they underestimate how much of an impact these drugs have on their driving capabilities. Let's take a look at some of the effects drug use can have behind the wheel:

    Cocaine - Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that decreases your ability to make good decisions and use sound judgment. Driving under its effects can make a user feel overconfident and impulsive and reduces the ability to concentrate. This drug can even cause episodes of psychosis.

    Meth - The effects of meth use while driving are very similar to cocaine since both are stimulants. Driving while under the influence of meth is associated with aggressive and reckless behavior.

    Opioids - Beyond inhibiting pain and causing drowsiness, opioids can interfere with night vision and reduce attention spans, reaction times, and coordination abilities, all of which are critical driving skills.

    Hallucinogens - LSD, magic mushrooms, peyote, and ecstasy all have hallucinogenic properties, which make a user see and hear things that are not there. Users will have distorted visual perceptions, making it hard to judge speed and distance. Drivers under the influence of hallucinogenics may experience a decreased ability to coordinate and react when behind the wheel.

    Ecstasy - Ecstasy is a stimulant with hallucinogenic properties lasting up to six hours. It can give drivers a false sense of confidence, distorts visual perception, decreases reaction time and concentration skills, and increases risk-taking behavior.

    Cannabis - Although cannabis has been legalized in many states for recreational use, it's still illegal to drive while under its effects. Drivers can experience slower reaction times and hesitancy, distance and speed can be distorted, and concentration and coordination abilities will be affected.

    Prescription medications - Since driving requires good coordination and mental awareness, many legally prescribed medications can impact the ability to drive safely. When different medications are combined, the effects can be even more significant. Many medications can cause drowsiness, increase aggressive behavior, and cause poor concentration, blurred vision, and slowed reaction times. The problem with prescription medicines and driving is that drivers may not know when they are impaired and, thus, drive illegally. Anyone who snorts cocaine and gets behind the wheel knows that what they are doing is illegal. Still, if someone causes an accident under the influence of prescription drugs, they might be held liable for any damages.

    There has been a lot of evidence that drug use is on the rise, especially now when thousands of prescription drugs are available and prescribed for every malady under the sun. While most illegal drug users know the score of driving while under the influence, prescription drug users may ignore instructions from their pharmacist or not take product warnings seriously.

  • What Is the Liability of Those Who Cause Accidents While Under the Influence of Drugs?

    Suppose someone causes an accident and is found to be under the influence of drugs at the time. In that case, they can face civil liability for any medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. The car accident lawyers at Morgan and Morgan can fight to prove the other party was negligent. However, proving they were under the influence at the time is the realm of law enforcement.

    It's up to them to determine if there is probable cause for a drug test. As stated previously, they often use sensory clues to assess whether a person's demeanor or conduct points to impairment.

    When there is suspicion, it will likely be included in the police report whether an actual drug test occurred or not. Your Morgan and Morgan lawyer will discuss that with the police to get more details. If there is a history of drug use, especially DUIs, it could strengthen your case.

  • What Are the Results of Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs?

    Since some of the effects of drugs are aggressiveness, recklessness, and an exaggerated sense of confidence, the results of a car accident with a drug-impaired driver can be catastrophic. They may have been speeding, changing lanes erratically, or may have ignored traffic signs. Some serious injuries from accidents caused by impaired drivers can include:

    • Traumatic brain injuries
    • Spinal cord injuries
    • Damage to internal organs
    • Fractured and broken bones
    • Severe neck and back injuries
    • Amputations
    • Permanent impairment or disfigurement
    • Wrongful death

    When someone is negligent and causes you, or a loved one harm, you should be entitled to compensation for economic and noneconomic damages. The amount you can receive will be directly linked to the severity of your injuries. Catastrophic injuries cause medical bills to skyrocket, and the expenses may not stop when you leave the hospital. Ongoing care and future treatments may be necessary.

    If your ability to work is impacted, you may need to seek compensation for lost wages now and in the future. Medical expenses and lost wages fall under the category of economic losses. The emotional trauma that results from an accident can sometimes exceed the harm from physical injuries. This is usually compensated through an award for pain and suffering. Still, you may be able to sue for other noneconomic losses like loss of enjoyment of life or loss of relationships.  

    It’s reasonable to ask, "Do you get drug tested after an accident?" However, a better question may be, "How do I prove fault after a car accident?" The car accident attorneys at Morgan and Morgan will work diligently with you to establish the other party's fault if their negligence results in any harm to you or someone you care about.

  • What About The Fourth Amendment and Improper Drug Tests?

    While anyone hurt in a car accident would be eager to know if drug use by the other party had anything to do with it, people are not automatically tested after an accident because it would be unconstitutional. Under the Fourth Amendment, all Americans have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. In this scenario, law enforcement would be required to have a warrant. They would need probable cause to believe you were under the influence to haul you down to the police station to get tested.

    What they can do is ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. This is to get a sense of your situational awareness and physical abilities. It's also an opportunity to look at you up close to see if your pupils show any indication of drug use. These actions may all be in an attempt to develop probable cause for a drug test.

    Suppose you believe your Fourth Amendment rights were violated after a car accident. In that case, the civil rights attorneys at Morgan and Morgan can work to hold the police officers responsible accountable. Victims of civil rights abuses deserve to be compensated.

  • Contact Morgan and Morgan

    Whether you've been injured in an accident where the other driver was under the influence of drugs, or you've had your civil rights violated from an unlawful arrest, Morgan, and Morgan can help make it right. Legal representatives on the other party's side may have extensive resources to fight you in your pursuit of justice. It would be best if you had a powerful law firm on your side, too. We deliver for our clients on all fronts. You'll have expert legal advice and representation, plus all the resources you could need to aid in your case.

    There's no upfront financial commitment. We only collect when we successfully resolve your case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Our goal is to bring the power back to the people.

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