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Increased drug use documented among drivers killed in crashes

People in New York generally associate alcohol use with impairment that makes driving dangerous. A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association has documented a rise in the presence of opioids and marijuana in drivers who perished in car accidents in 2016 compared to 10 years earlier.

Although the data used in the report is incomplete because not all victims undergo drug testing, the authors of the report maintain that the evidence clearly supports the conclusion that drug use has increased. In 2016, 44 percent of tested victims had drugs in their systems compared to 2006 when only 28 percent of deceased drivers produced positive results on drug tests.

The report acknowledged that the presence of drugs in a person's system does not always mean that the person was impaired at the time of death. Different people react in different ways to the same drugs. Law enforcement faces a challenge when trying to determine if a driver is impaired by drugs. Alcohol testing has been standardized nationwide, but the complexity of drug impairment testing has defied standardization.

If a driver who causes a crash does test positive for impairment due to drug or alcohol consumption, then victims of the accident could have cause to file a lawsuit for damages. An attorney familiar with the laws surrounding auto accidents and personal injury may inform a person about the process of filing a lawsuit. To build a case, an attorney might collect a police report, witness testimony about an accident and the victim's medical records. This evidence may show negligence and demonstrate the financial loss suffered by the victim. An attorney may present this information to an insurance company to justify a claim or advance the case to a jury trial if the responsible party resists paying.

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