Getting the Facts About Drugged Driving in Portland
How common is drugged driving in Oregon? According to a recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) entitled, “
Drug-impaired Driving,” it turns out that drugged driving crashes now outnumber drunk driving accidents. Indeed, the report noted that, of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2015:
- 43 percent tested positive for drugs in their systems;
- 37 percent tested positive for alcohol.
To be clear, the report suggests that more deadly crashes are resulting from drug-impaired driving than from alcohol-impaired driving.
It is illegal in Oregon to drive under the influence of intoxicants, including any type of drug that can lead to a drug-impaired crash. Under the Oregon statute (ORS 813.010), “a person commits the offense of driving under the influence of intoxicants if the person drives a vehicle while the person . . . is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a controlled substance, or an inhalant.”
The GHSA report notes that, although recreational marijuana use is legal in Oregon, this does not mean that a person can drive while intoxicated by marijuana or any other drug.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
Since July 2015, recreational marijuana use has been legal in the state of Oregon. Residents are permitted to grow up to four marijuana plants for personal use, but are prohibited from selling it or using marijuana in public places. While studies show marijuana can help relieve anxiety and is useful in treating a variety of illnesses and chronic conditions, even small amounts can have a detrimental impact on your driving abilities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that next to alcohol, marijuana use is a leading contributing factor in DUI-related car accidents and injuries. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, has a significant impact on the brain, affecting areas that control the body’s movements, memory, and coordination. As a result, drivers under the influence of marijuana are likely to experience the following:
- Poor Judgement: making reckless driving behaviors such as speeding or going too fast for conditions more likely;
- Reduced Reaction Times: making it harder to respond to changes in road, traffic, or weather conditions;
- Inability to Concentrate: resulting in an increased likelihood of driver distraction;
- Impaired Coordination: making it harder to juggle various driving tasks.
Seeking Compensation for Car Accident Injuries Caused by DUI Drivers
Under Oregon DUI laws, drivers can be cited for driving under the influence of marijuana, the same as they could for alcohol. When car accidents occur, evidence of marijuana use can be presented to prove liability in a claim.
The CDC reports that while marijuana testing is not generally conducted at accident scenes, the substance does remain in the user’s system longer. Blood, urine, or hair follicle testing can often detect use months after it actually occurred. Proving it played a role in your car accident generally requires more extensive investigations, which may include the following:
- Reviewing police reports and statements made by witnesses at the scene;
- Reviewing videotaped accident footage from traffic signals or nearby businesses;
- Subpoenaing testimony from the driver’s friends and acquaintances;
- Collecting medical evidence from the driver, such as toxicology reports;
- Visiting the accident scene and examining the driver’s vehicle.
If you are involved in a car accident and you suspect marijuana use played a role, it is important to speak with an experienced car accident attorney right away. Call or contact the Johnston Law Firm online today and request a free consultation in our Portland office. We can review the details of your case, and advise you on the best course of action to get the compensation you deserve.
Seeking Compensation through an Insurance Claim or a Lawsuit
Oregon is a no-fault state when it comes to car crashes and insurance claims. This means that an injury victim can seek compensation by filing a claim with her own insurance or by filing through the impaired driver’s insurance company. It is important to note, however, that some insurance companies do not cover a drug-impaired crash. If the other driver’s policy has a DUI/DWI exclusion or if the other driver is uninsured, you can file a claim through your own policy.
In some situations, it might make sense to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. Generally speaking, Oregon law (ORS 31.705-31.735) permits an injury victim to seek the following types of damages:
- Economic damages: this is a type of compensatory damages that can compensate a victim for direct financial losses like medical bills, surgery costs, prescription drug costs, and lost wages.
- Non-economic damages: this is also a type of compensatory damages that can compensate a drugged driving accident victim for more subjective losses like pain and suffering, or the loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages: this type of damages award is not designed to compensate for losses, but rather to punish the drugged driving for wrongdoing. These damages can be difficult to obtain, but they can also be awarded to a drugged driving accident victim.
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