Vehicle accidents occur in a wide variety of ways in the state of Arizona. However, accidents caused by drug impairment are a rising concern in and around the Phoenix area. When most people think of impairment behind the wheel, they think of alcohol. However, any type of narcotic can also lead to significant impairment that could cause a severe crash. At Torgenson Law, we are here to help if you need a Phoenix drug impairment accident attorney by your side. We have the resources necessary to conduct complete investigations into these incidents, and we have a track record of success in helping clients recover full compensation for their losses.
Driving while impaired in Arizona is a reckless action and a leading cause of serious injury and fatal accidents each year across this state. Drivers operating while impaired could face DUI charges that lead to significant fines, jail, and even prison time.
When we look at Arizona Revised Statute 28-1381, we can see that it is “unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state” under various circumstances. Most people understand that it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08% or higher. However, this law also says that it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while there is any drug or drug metabolite in a person’s body.
Under A.R.S. §13-3401, a person cannot operate a vehicle while there is any marijuana, narcotic drugs, prescription medications without a valid prescription, or other dangerous drugs in their system. Under the current writing of the law, it is irrelevant if a person is impaired by drugs or narcotics at the time of driving. The drug metabolite only has to be found in a person’s system for them to face a DUI charge.
Drug metabolites are left behind in a person’s body after the liver breaks down the drug. Certain drugs are left inside a person’s system for longer than others. For example, marijuana metabolites can remain in a person’s system for weeks, long after the effects of the drug have worn off. Even though this is incredibly controversial, the language of this law has been upheld by the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Risks of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
Most people only think of impairment risks when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol. Even though the risks of alcohol-impaired driving had been well-documented, it is crucial to point out that driving under the influence of narcotics can be just as dangerous on the roadway.
When we look at drugabuse.gov, we can see that the effects of specific drugs on driving skills depend on how each individual drug acts on a person’s brain. Because “narcotics” make up such a wide range of different types of substances, it is impossible to say that there is a singular way that these intoxicants can affect driving.
For example, marijuana can slow reaction time, impair a person’s judgment of time and distance, and decrease concentration. Drivers intoxicated with cocaine or methamphetamine could be more aggressive and reckless when they are behind the wheel. Drivers under the influence of various types of prescription medications, including opioids or benzodiazepines, may be drowsy, dizzy, or have impaired cognitive functioning when they are driving.
Regardless of what type of drug a person is under the influence of when they are behind the wheel, the reality is that this is dangerous behavior. Drivers under the influence of drugs are much more likely to cause accidents, and they can cause serious harm or property damage to themselves or others.
If you or somebody you care about has been injured due to an accident caused by a drug-impaired driver in Phoenix, you need to speak to a skilled attorney as soon as possible. Proving the liability of the other driver can be challenging.
While it may seem like a simple process of proving that a person was under the influence of drugs and this caused the accident, that is not always the case. In fact, proving drug-impaired driving can be more challenging than proving alcohol-impaired driving. Often, the tests used to prove drug impairment by law enforcement officials are less conclusive than those used to prove alcohol impairment.
A driver will be held liable for a vehicle accident in these situations if the following can be proven:
Coming up with the necessary evidence to prove all of this can be challenging. However, an attorney will be able to conduct a complete investigation into the incident. They will have the resources necessary to work directly with law enforcement officials in order to obtain accident reports, proof of impairment, and video surveillance from the incident. Additionally, an attorney will work with trusted economic and medical professionals who can fully evaluate the injury victim and help prove total losses.
Vehicle accidents in Phoenix and throughout Arizona often result in severe injuries for those involved. However, injuries caused by drug-impaired accidents could result in more severe injuries. Often, these incidents happen when a person is operating at a high rate of speed, when a person does not hit the brakes before a collision occurs, or when a driver is operating on the wrong side of the roadway. All of these factors can increase the likelihood of severe injuries when a collision occurs.
At Torgenson Law, our Phoenix drug impairment accident lawyers regularly help clients who have sustained the following injuries:
In addition to these visible traumatic injuries, those injured as a result of a drug-impaired driver’s actions may also sustain significant emotional and psychological trauma. This can include feelings of anxiety, stress, fear, and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The passage of Proposition 207 legalized recreational marijuana in the state of Arizona. The passage of this Proposition raised concerns about accidents involving impaired driving, particularly those operating under the influence of marijuana. However, the state of Arizona has been dealing with this issue for a while now because medical marijuana has also been legal in the state long before recreational marijuana was legalized.
Marijuana is legal for any person over the age of 21 and patients with a qualifying medical condition. Adults can possess up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana at a time and grow up to six plants.
The reality is that marijuana is the most commonly used drug in the age group that has the most vehicle accidents in Arizona. Even though there is no breathalyzer to test whether or not a person is under the influence of marijuana, law enforcement officials can use a drug influence evaluation (DIE) that is administered by a drug recognition expert (DRE) to determine whether or not a person is operating a vehicle while impaired.
As we mentioned above, a person does not necessarily have to be currently impaired by marijuana to face in DUI charge. They simply have to have the metabolites of the drug in their system, which can remain there for weeks after the effects of the impairment have worn off. In order to arrest a person for DUI, an officer only has to suspect that there is impairment and that the impairment has affected a person’s driving.
Individuals harmed by drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs may be entitled to various types of compensation. In most cases, these claims will be resolved through a settlement with insurance carriers, but it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
At Torgenson Law, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients recover both economic and non-economic compensation in these situations.
The total amount of compensation available in these situations will vary depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding each particular drug-impaired driving accident in Phoenix. There are various factors that will be taken into consideration, including the severity of the injuries, the level of property damage, any lost income the victim incurs, pain and suffering damages, and more. Our attorneys will work diligently with economic and medical experts to help properly calculate total expected losses for these cases.
Yes, you will likely be able to afford an attorney if you have been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a drug-impaired driver in Arizona. At Torgenson Law, we take these cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that our clients will not have to worry about paying any upfront or out-of-pocket costs related to their case. Our attorneys will not collect any legal fees until after we successfully recover the compensation our clients need through a settlement or jury verdict. If we do not win, our clients do not pay a dime.
We think that this type of fee arrangement is incredibly beneficial to those who need to recover compensation for injuries not caused by their own actions. It is important to hold negligent drivers accountable, particularly those who operate their vehicles while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
If you or somebody you love has been injured as a result of a drug-impaired driver in the Phoenix area, reach out to the team at Torgenson Law for help as soon as possible. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling complex vehicle accident claims throughout Arizona. We have the resources necessary to conduct a completely independent investigation into the incident in order to determine liability and help you recover full compensation for your losses. We will not hesitate to stand up to aggressive insurance carriers to ensure you are properly cared for. When you need a Phoenix drug impairment accident attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here to fill out our contact form or calling us at (602) 641-3007.