Drugs and alcohol are a contributing factor in many car accidents. The use of drugs and alcohol can affect a driver’s perception, slowing reaction times and preventing them from accurately assessing their surroundings.

But despite the recognized dangers of driving under the influence, more than half of car crash victims in a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had drugs or alcohol in their bloodstreams.

Drunk and drugged driving is a leading cause of car crashes. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a crash with a driver who may have been under the influence, consider speaking with a New York car accident lawyer.

Drug and Alcohol Involvement in Traffic Accidents

The NHTSA study, published in December 2022, shows that 54 percent of roadway users (i.e., drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and passengers) seriously injured or killed in traffic accidents had alcohol or drugs in their bloodstreams, with 20 percent of drivers testing positive for two or more drugs.

THC, the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, was the most common drug used by accident victims, with alcohol being the second-most common. Perhaps more concerning, nearly one-fifth of accident victims in the NHTSA’s study had blood alcohol levels of .08 or higher, an amount higher than the legal limit in every state.

This study follows reports that traffic deaths in the U.S. have been increasing since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, including in New York State.

New York City experienced a 44 percent increase in fatal traffic accidents in the first three months of 2022, while Suffolk and Nassau County ranked first and third in the state in auto fatalities in 2020, respectively.

Experts have speculated that increased drug and alcohol use by drivers may be partially responsible for the increase in auto accidents. Some experts have also raised concerns about the effects of legalizing marijuana on road safety.

NHTSA did not address whether the car crash victims who tested positive for drugs or alcohol were at fault for the accidents studied.

Impaired Driving Insurance and Legal Issues

Drunk or impaired driving is negligent driving that can increase the likelihood of serious car accident injuries.

If you sustained a “serious injury,” as defined under New York insurance law, due to someone else’s negligence, you might be able to file a claim against their auto insurance policy for bodily injury and property damage liability.

Testing positive for drugs or alcohol doesn’t automatically mean the other driver is impaired, or at fault. An NHTSA research psychologist told NPR that the presence of THC in so many patients could be because THC can stay in the bloodstream longer than alcohol or other drugs.

But if a positive drug or alcohol test appears on a police report or is uncovered by an investigation, this information can strengthen your ability to file a lawsuit outside of your no-fault coverage. In a New York car accident lawsuit, you must establish that the other party was at fault.

Also keep in mind that your no-fault insurer could exclude you from coverage if you were injured in an accident and it is determined that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. However, coverage can only be excluded if your intoxicated or drugged condition was a contributing cause of the accident that caused your injuries.

Whether you’re filing a claim with your insurance company or somebody else’s, you don’t have to accept a settlement offer or denied claim without first getting a second opinion. It can be a mistake to close an insurance claim too quickly, before you understand your rights and the full extent of your injuries.

Once you accept an offer, you can’t renegotiate new terms. You only have one chance at getting full compensation for your car accident losses. Make it count.

We’ve Been Helping Car Accident Victims Since 1967

You don’t have to deal with the trauma and pain of a car crash alone. If you were hurt in a crash that may have been caused by drug or alcohol use, get in touch with a New York car accident lawyer to discuss your options. The Sanders Law Firm is here to help.

We have a proven track record of success in personal injury cases, with over 50 years of experience helping injured New Yorkers and hundreds of millions of dollars recovered for our clients. You pay no upfront fees and no fees at all unless we receive a verdict or settlement for you. Contact us today for a free case review.