Other Than Alcohol, What Are Causes of Impaired Driving?

Russell Button
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Texas Trial Lawyer

In Texas, impaired drivers are charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). However, in this case, intoxication refers to more than just being drunk. Any substance that impairs a driver’s ability to operate a car safely can be considered an intoxicant and the user can be charged with a DWI if he drives recklessly or causes an accident.

Drugs That Can Impair Driving

It should be obvious that any substance that affects the user’s ability to think, react, use motor skills, and be alert will affect his ability to operate a vehicle. However, far too many people fail to equate drug use with dangerous driving. It is important to realize that it is not only illicit drug use that impairs driving but completely legal over-the-counter and prescription medications as well. When a reckless driver causes an accident, he may be under the influence of any of the following drugs:

  • Prescription drugs. Whether used under a doctor’s orders or illegally because of addiction, prescription drugs such as opioid painkillers can slow reaction time, cause mental fogginess, and reduce coordination. Users should seek medical advice before operating a vehicle while on any medication.
  • Marijuana. Marijuana is illegal for any use in Texas, but it is still widely used. Many people think of it as a harmless drug, but it can slow reaction time, impair the judgment of time and distance, and decrease coordination—making it very dangerous to use before driving.
  • Over-the-counter drugs. Any over-the-counter medication that warns users not to operate heavy machinery should not be taken before driving. Medications such as cold and allergy relief can cause drowsiness and increase distraction in drivers.
  • Illegal drugs. Drugs such as cocaine and heroin can seriously affect driving, although in different ways. Cocaine is a stimulant and can cause hyperactivity, aggression, and recklessness in drivers. Heroin is an opiate and can cause slowed reaction times, decreased coordination, and drowsiness.

Drug Use Can Be Hard to Prove

Because police officers only have roadside tests for alcohol at this point, it can be difficult to prove that a reckless driver is under the influence of drugs. Unless the driver is in possession of drugs at the scene of a crash, he will often get away with driving under the influence, which could make your claim for damages more difficult to prove. Most drug testing requires a blood sample. Under Texas’ implied consent laws, a police officer can require a driver to submit to a blood test, but it must be obvious that the driver is impaired in some way.

Call Button Law for Assistance

If you were injured in an accident and are having a hard time seeking compensation from the other driver, call the Button Law Firm for help with your Dallas, Midland or Houston claim. We can look at the other driver’s records and may be able to determine if he was using drugs at the time of the crash. Call today to schedule your free consultation.