DWI:WARNING! Drinking Alcohol is not the only way to be Driving Under the Influence

Frequently when we think about DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) the first thought that comes to mind is alcohol, and for many years the majority of DWI arrests have been related to alcohol.

DWI:WARNING! It Is More Than Just Alcohol. Recently, new problems have arisen with prescription drugs among others. Impaired driving does not have to imply the use of illicit drugs. Reactions to prescription drugs can occur even when someone is taking their medication at the prescribed dose but is unaware of or ignores the side effects written on the label of the pill container. Of course, the recent uptick in widespread opiate use can also attribute to an increase in drug-related DWI cases.

Is the Problem Really that Serious?

According to the statistics, during 2016, 39 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs, with 19 percent testing positive for cannabinoids and 12 percent for narcotics.

In 2016, 103 fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs, according to AAA Northeast.

These numbers have increased from 2007 when 55 fatally injured drugged drivers, or 15 percent, tested positive for drugs, with 6 percent testing positive for cannabinoids and 3 percent for narcotics, according to AAA Northeast.

Additionally, the new analysis revealed that in 2015 and 2016, more fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs than alcohol. This is a reversal of the trend seen from the years 2007 to 2014.

AAA Northeast’s analysis determined that, overall, from 2006 to 2016 there were 793 fatally injured drugged drivers in New Jersey.

AAA Northeast says there are a number of factors that could be contributing to the rise in drugged driving.

Of the drivers who died in crashes in New Jersey in 2016, 103 tested positive for drugs compared with 92 who tested positive for alcohol, AAA Northeast says.

The Centers for Disease Control says that more than 64,000 people died from overdoses in 2016, including 20,000 from synthetic opioids and 15,000 from heroin. In 2016, 31 drivers testing positive for narcotics died in crashes in New Jersey, compared to the 49 drivers testing positive for cannabinoids who lost their lives.

Since recreational and medical marijuana is legal in some states, with a number of others potentially following close behind, more Americans have become open to the idea of using marijuana and driving, AAA Northeast says.

According to the 2017 version of the AAA Traffic Safety Culture Index, 66 percent of those surveyed consider it unacceptable to drive within an hour of using marijuana, compared to 76 percent in 2013.

Additionally, the more acceptable attitude in regards marijuana consumption comes at a time when the drug has become more potent, AAA Northeast said, citing that the National Institutes of Health reports that delta-9 THC content in sampled marijuana tripled — rising from 4 percent in 1995 to more than 12 percent in 2014.

Is the Problem Really that Serious?That prescription medication your doctor gave you could earn you a DWI. The opioid epidemic is bringing up new reports from law enforcement that show drugged driving is on the rise.

AAA Northeast urges motorists to avoid driving while impaired, stressing that even if a drug is legal, it does not mean it is safe to operate a motor vehicle under its influence.  Taking any prescription drug that negatively impacts driving then getting behind the wheel can be considered drugged or reckless driving. It does not matter if you are taking the correct dose.

What About Drowsy or Distracted Driving?

The National Highway Transit Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in 2017 alone 91,000 crashes were the result of drowsy driving. AAA estimates that 109,000 accidents a year are caused by driving drowsy. Those accidents caused approximately 50,000 injuries and 800 deaths.

An in-depth study by the AAA involving video dash cameras found that at least 9.5% of vehicle accidents are caused by drowsy driving, but some estimates put it as high as 21%.

The CDC reports that each day 8 Americans are killed by a distracted driver. And these are just the known cases of distracted driving.

The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 12.6 people drove while under the influence of illicit drugs. Marijuana was the most common drug found in drivers’ systems, but nearly 20% of those drivers tested positive for an opioid. The most recent data showed that 1 in 5 drivers who were charged with a DUI had opioids in their system.

But it is not just opioids that are a problem. Taking any prescription drug that negatively impacts driving then getting behind the wheel can be considered drugged or reckless driving. It does not matter if you are taking the correct dose.

What Are The Penalties For DWI In New Jersey?

First Offense

Fine of not less than $ 300 nor more than $ 500; a period of detainment of not less than 12 hours nor more than 48 hours spent during two consecutive days of not less than six hours each day; a term of imprisonment of not more than 30 days; offender has a suspended license for at least 7 months up to a year.

 Second Offense

Fine of not less than $ 500.00 nor more than $ 1,000.00; community service for a period of 30 days; imprisonment for a term of not less than 48 consecutive hours, which shall not be suspended or served on probation, nor more than 90 days; two-year license suspension.

Third or Subsequent Offense

What Are The Penalties For DWI In New Jersey?Fine of $ 1,000.00; imprisonment for a term of not less than 180 days in a county jail or workhouse, except that the court may lower such term for each day, not exceeding 90 days, served to participate in a drug or alcohol inpatient rehabilitation program approved by the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center; eight-year license suspension, offender required to install an ignition interlock device.

If you have been arrested for DWI or know of someone who has, all your rights must be protected.  You need someone in your corner to support you during this difficult time.

Retain an experienced Linden DWI or Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Attorney Today

At Edward S. Cooper Law Firm,  we take pride in successfully representing clients in Rahway, Clark, Roselle, Roselle Park, Garwood, Elizabeth, Cranford, Edison, and throughout Union County, Essex County, and northern Middlesex County. Whether you have yet to fully decide your next steps or are ready to move forward immediately, our knowledgeable team of attorneys is only a phone call away.

If you are looking for counseling on DWI-related topics, contact a member of our firm today by calling at 908-481-4625.