The Dangers of “Drugged” Driving in Georgia

Though everyone knows about the danger and irresponsibility of getting behind the wheel after drinking, few people talk about the similar risks associated with drugged driving. It’s about time that changes given the increasing occurrence of medication-related wrecks on Georgia roadways.

One terrifying example occurred only a few weeks ago when a woman driving the wrong way in Gwinnett County was involved in a car crash that injured five others. The female driver was taking a powerful sedative she had stolen from her job as a nurse with an anesthesiology center.

The driver is said to have been under the influence of Propofol as she drove for three miles the wrong way down Ga. 316. Police investigators say they found an IV bag with a used needle in her car and believe she injected herself with several vials right before her wreck.

The Georgia woman was charged with a litany of offenses, including five felony counts of causing serious injury by vehicle and a felony drug charge. Misdemeanor and traffic charges include theft by taking, hit and run and driving under the influence of drugs.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the problem of impaired driving is not limited to alcohol. Driving under the influence of prescription drugs raises many of the same concerns given that powerful medication can act on the brain to impair a person’s motor skills, reaction time and judgment. Drugged driving is a public health concern because it puts not only the driver at risk, but also passengers and others who share the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2007 National Roadside Survey, more than 16% of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription, or over-the-counter medications while more than 11% tested positive for illicit drugs. Another NHTSA study found that in 2009, among fatally injured drivers, 18% tested positive for at least one, a number that marked a 13% increase from 2005. These results indicate that not enough has been done to educate the public about the true danger of driving under the influence of medication.

Despite the information available regarding the danger of drugged driving, the nation’s laws have yet to reflect the severity of the crime. Though alcohol detection is relatively easy, the presence of illicit drugs is more difficult to measure and there is no agreed upon impairment limit. Many states, including Georgia, don’t list specific requirements for what measurements of substances amount to intoxicated driving the way that 0.08% blood alcohol concentration is specified for alcohol-related arrests. Instead, Georgia Code Annotated § 40-6-391(a)(2) vaguely says that a person is guilty of a DUI if that person drives any moving vehicle while under the influence of any drug to the extent that it is less safe for the person to drive.

As Georgia car accident attorneys who routinely handle such accidents, it’s tragic to see increasingly frequent instances of yet another category of impaired driving in the state. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident or truck wreck because of the carelessness of another driver, call the personal injury attorneys at Pope McGlamry P.C. today to schedule a free consultation.

Source: “Driver in wrong-way Gwinnett crash to enter drug rehab,” by David Ibata, published at