California is famous for its stunning expansive beaches, beautiful coastlines, crystal clear waters, sunny days, and hot weather. It is also a place that over 270 million tourists visit each year to experience famous places like The Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood, Yosemite National Park, and Disneyland. From a distance, California can appear to be the place where fantasies are realized; however, people in the state are struggling with an epidemic of addiction, just as many other states across the country are.
The use of drugs in California is commonplace: half of the Californians above 12 reported drinking alcohol in the last month, and 20% reported using marijuana within the previous year. Although many people consume substances with caution, the use or abuse of alcohol and other illicit substances could result in long-term or immediate health issues. A whopping 9 percent of Californians were diagnosed with a substance use disorder (SUD) during the past year.
The health system is advancing towards acknowledging SUDs as chronic diseases. Still, just 10% of those suffering from a SUD over the past year sought treatment. Overdose deaths caused by psychostimulants and opioids like amphetamines are rising.
Driver Deaths Associated with Drug Abuse
Based on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2019 tested positive for illegal or legal substances, an 8 percent increase from the prior year. Recent studies have shown an increase in the number of personal injuries resulting from collisions with cars, likely caused by this increase in cannabinoids, alcohol, and opioid use due to the ongoing healthcare crisis.
The numbers are alarming and suggest a likely continuation of the disturbing trend into 2022. NHTSA preliminary data indicates that there have been 20,160 deaths on American roads from June 2021. This is a staggering figure and is an 18.4 percent increase over 2019. The NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System ( FARS) estimates that the first quarter of 2021 will hit the record of 15 years for fatal traffic accidents. The information suggests that the main reasons for this are the combination of impaired driving, speeding, and not using seatbelts. They are among the significant factors.
Within California alone, drinking too many causes more than 70k hospitalizations and can lead to more than 10k deaths. Research has shown that these outcomes tend to occur more frequently in males than females. It is also known that older people are more likely to have alcohol-related ailments, as younger adults are more susceptible to injury resulting from alcohol.
DUI Car Accident Injury Claims
In Sacramento, California, and throughout the United States, DUI, or “driving under the influence,” is one of the primary reasons for accidents on the road. Suppose anyone you’re familiar with becomes the victim of a DUI. In that case, you’ll need an experienced and reliable Sacramento injury lawyer to ensure you can claim your rights and get compensated.
Suppose the DUI accident happens and the accident injures or kills the victim. In that case, the family may be entitled to compensation for the loss of earnings, medical expenses, and emotional and psychological suffering.
DUI Penalties in California
Penalties for DUI in California vary based on the number of times you’ve been found guilty of an offense. Suppose you are convicted of your first offense. In that case, you can be sentenced to at least six months in prison, incur $390 – $1000 in fines, or suffer an extended suspension of six months of your license. Suppose you are convicted of a second offense. In that case, you can spend up to 1 year in prison and pay a fine similar to that mentioned above or risk the possibility of a two-year license suspension.
Drunk Driving Accidents by Age Group
Alcohol is the leading reason for traffic deaths. Drinking and driving causes the deaths of 28 people every day within the U.S. — about one person every 52 minutes in the estimation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This amounts to about 10,000 deaths every year due to drunk driving.
Under California law, a driver is legally impaired when their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or more. The quantity of drinks required to achieve this BAC is mainly dependent on the gender and weight of the driver; however, the typical amount is about three drinks of standard pours for adults.
Young drivers are the most vulnerable to being impaired drivers. NHTSA research shows that drivers aged 21 and 24 accounts for 27 percent of fatal accidents involving impaired drivers and are closely followed by drivers aged between 25 and 34 (25 percent). However, the application of laws requiring minimum drinking age has been proven to save the lives of more than 30,000.
Drunk driving can have a significant impact on teenage drivers. In 2019 24% of the teenagers aged 15 to twenty who were killed in auto accidents had blood alcohol levels of .01 or more.
California’s Highest Abused Drugs
Citizens in several parts of the country are mostly addicted to one sort of substance. For instance, West Virginia has significantly higher rates of addiction to opioids. However, many substances that alter the mind in California are being used in high amounts. They are as follows:
The use of marijuana for recreational reasons is legal in California. The fact that this drug is legal, like alcohol, does not imply it isn’t causing challenges for people. Marijuana continues to be the most commonly used substance in California. According to California, data on drug addiction shows that more than 27 percent of the total population uses the drug.
Marijuana is the second most commonly discovered substance in the bloodstream of drivers involved in crashes after alcohol. The quantity of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), this drug’s mind-bending component, in the blood is measured in tests for detecting marijuana in drivers.
Marijuana has been linked with the loss of the ability to drive. It can impair concentration and make it challenging to assess distance and time, which can cause some of the following: poor judgment, slow reaction time, inadequate control of speed, an inability to read the signs clearly or signs, drowsiness, and disorientation.
Opioid Pain Medication
Opioid pain relievers such as fentanyl, OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin are among the most widely abused pharmaceuticals in the United States, including California. Around eight percent of Californians use opioid pain medication. Dependence on opioid pain medication can become highly severe quickly because it takes several days to be established. Overdosing on opioids or using them for an extended period can result in death or another physical health condition (like respiratory problems).
Opiates can cause drowsiness, mental confusion, and vision impairment even at moderate, lower doses. The driver might have trouble maintaining the vehicle in the right lane and could make mistakes in their judgment.
Cocaine is a stimulant substance that is illegally obtained. This medication’s surge of excitement and energy attracts those who abuse it. Certain regions of California, such as Hollywood and its neighbors, are fast-moving, as are many other parts of the country. Struggling to catch up with such a fast pace can raise a person’s chances of leaning on cocaine for an energy boost. Cocaine is California’s third-highest misused substance, with 7.2 percent of the people addicted to it.
Cocaine can effectively disguise fatigue. However, excessive doses can impair judgment and hinder the ability of drivers to focus. Vision and coordination are affected. The result is an increase in impulsive behaviors and tendencies to take on more risks and cause confusion in the user. Coca users maintain the illusion of being awake and energized, but physical responses are diminished.
California data on drug addiction shows that heroin is the fourth position as the most commonly abused substance in California. Approximately 0.4 percent of people between 18 and 25 are hooked on heroin, obtained illegally through a dealer. The opioid heroin is just like fentanyl and OxyContin are, and, consequently, they have similar results. As a result, countless Californians resort to heroin as a last resort when the money dries up, and they can no longer buy prescribed opiates.
Overdose and Death Rates in California
Riverside County drug addiction statistics reveal that in this state, the death rate from drug overdose is 12.8 percent less than national figures of around 14.5 percent. Overdoses of opioids are the cause of lives of 5.8 people per 100,000. Other California statistics on addiction to drugs concerning death and overdose rates are:
- More men than women die of an overdose. 16.2 percent of males suffer from drug overdoses compared to 8.3 percent of women.
- The American Indians/Alaskan natives have the highest rate of overdose deaths across the entire state, and 33 percent of all overdose-related drug deaths happen among this group.
- Prescription opioids account for 3.2 deaths per 100,000 residents in California being, followed by heroin (1.4 deaths per 100,000 persons) and Fentanyl (0.9 percent of deaths per 100 people)
The California blood alcohol levels (BAC) standards for driving while impaired (DUI) or driving under the influence (DWI) vary. The reason for the charge is the driver’s age and whether the vehicle they are driving is commercial or private. If you live in the state, you could be accused of DUI or DWI. If you’re:
- Aged less than 21 and with a BAC of 0.01 percent or greater
- Above 21 years old and with a BAC of 0.08 percent or more
- Operating a commercial vehicle when a BAC of 0.04 or higher
California has a zero-tolerance blood alcohol law for drivers under 21 years old. Drivers who fall within this age range and are drinking in any quantity are liable to be charged with DUI.
Additionally, the DUI situation does not just involve driving drunk but also driving after taking illicit drugs. Drug users who take prescription or over-the-counter medication linked to adverse effects such as insomnia and general impairment, disorientation, and similar issues can be charged with DUI if they drive while flagged or in an incident.
What Can Drivers Do to Remain Protected from Impaired Drivers?
Every driver should be alert while driving to avoid being involved in collisions that can be caused by drivers who are under the influence of substances such as alcohol or drugs. These accidents can be considered uncontrollable, but there are ways you can ensure your safety from impaired drivers and how to respond if you’ve been involved in a collision caused by an impaired motorist.
Wearing Your Seatbelt
The best way to protect yourself from impaired drivers is to wear an appropriate seat belt. It is not possible to do much to stop impaired drivers from driving, but wearing a seatbelt is demonstrated to lower the chance of an accident that is fatal. Make sure that you and all passengers buckle their seatbelts each when you travel.
Make sure to allow for a considerable following distance.
You’ll be able better to recognize the erratic driving of a drunk driver only a few inches before they’re right in your way. Keep your vehicle away from a car that slows down, swerves, and speeds up regularly or behaves strangely.
Make sure you disable your cruise control when necessary. You can also contact local law enforcement officials to pull the impaired driver over and remove them from the road while driving under the influence.
Do not attempt to pass an impaired driver.
As we’ve mentioned before, the drivers who are in erratic behavior and do not signal correctly frequently confuse the right and left turn signals and swerve. Be aware that intersections are often the location of many crashes involving impaired drivers. Most impaired drivers cause these accidents by failing to obey traffic signals and stop signs. Be cautious when crossing intersections, take your time, look both ways, and be courteous to vehicles.
Do not ever stop a drunk driver.
Drivers under the influence are likely to have impaired cognitive thinking. They may be unable to control their moods and behavior. It is impossible to know the condition the driver is in mentally. Therefore it’s better not to interact with them. Let the police handle the situation.
What Should You Do If You Were Injured in an Accident with a Drug-Impaired Driver?
The first actions following a collision or impaired accident are the same, including calling the police at the scene of the accident and having them examined by a medical professional for any possible injuries. Also, ensure that you and the passengers have a secure area to wait for the police to arrive.
Photograph damages to your vehicle and any damage that may have occurred to the car in front of you. Documenting the accident is crucial for various reasons, such as determining how your vehicle was struck and collecting evidence. People often do not take photos or videos of the accident scene. This is a crucial step in accidents that involve impaired driving.
You or your attorney will be able to use photos and videos to prove fault, the extent of damage incurred by the incident, and most importantly, how you were hurt. You might also want to document what happened during the period that led up to the accident and the time immediately following. This data will be crucial for your claim to be successful and for you to receive the compensation you require.
There’s a significant distinction between a fender-bender in rush hour and car collisions involving impaired drivers with a criminal component. It is crucial to differentiate between crashes caused by impaired drivers. They are not the result of negligence but the at-fault impaired driver’s choice to drive under the influence. It is always recommended to speak with a personal injury lawyer in a car crash lawyer following an accident. However, it’s a must in personal injury cases that involve impaired drivers who are at fault.
The most effective step after an accident involving an impaired driver who is drunk or under the influence is to contact a qualified personal car accident and injury lawyer. The lawyer will do everything to get the compensation you deserve for any costs and damages, like the expensive medical costs associated with personal injury resulting from a car crash.