The Three Main Types Of Driving Impairments in Port St. Lucie, Florida
There is a move afoot to replace the phrase “car accident” with “car crash.” In the minds of many people, including many St. Lucie County jurors, labeling these events as accidents absolves the drivers of responsibility. Moreover, advocated correctly point out that planes crash, ships sink, and trains wreck, yet vehicle drivers have accidents.
A few car crashes in Port St. Lucie are one-off, wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time accidents. Yet the vast majority of these events are avoidable, at least to a certain extent, because they involve one of the kinds of driving impairment discussed below.
When most people think of “drug impairment,” they think about illegal street drugs like heroin or cocaine. A few drugged driving cases in Florida do involve such substances. But most of them involve prescription drugs, like OxyContin, Vicodin, or Xanax. It is legal to take these drugs, as long as the person has a legitimate prescription. However, it is illegal to drive under the influence of these drugs.
Drugged driving violates the DUI law in Florida. So, tortfeasors (negligent drivers) who cause crashes while under the influence of these medicines may be liable for damages as a matter of law. In many cases, just one pill may affect a person for hours. So, during the discovery process, it’s important to determine if the tortfeasor had any prescriptions for any pain pills.
Many over-the-counter drugs, like NyQuil or Sominex, might have the same effect both chemically and legally.
Several decades into an extended crackdown on drunk drivers, alcohol still causes almost a third of the fatal crashes in Florida. This substance inhibits motor skills and distorts judgement. So, drivers are dangerously impaired after just one drink. That standard is much lower than it is in criminal court, as it might take three drinks or more to intoxicate a person.
Alcohol-related crashes often involve third party liability. Florida has a rather strong dram shop law which holds restaurants, bars, and other commercial alcohol providers liable for damages in some cases. In all serious car wrecks, these damages include compensation for economic losses, like medical bills, as well as noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering.
Many people in Port St. Lucie know better than to drink and drive. Yet these same people have no problem driving home after a long day at work or staying on the road late to reach their destinations sooner. Ironically, fatigue and alcohol affect the brain in about the same way. Driving with a .08 BAC is the same as driving after eighteen hours without sleep.
There is no Breathalyzer or other test for fatigue. So, victim/plaintiffs must use circumstantial evidence in these cases. Such evidence includes:
- Physical Symptoms: Tired people have bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, slow motor skills, and other such symptoms.
- Amount of Sleep: This one is fairly self-explanatory.
- Time of Day: Many people are naturally drowsy early in the morning or late at night. It does not matter how much sleep they had the night before. This effect is especially pronounced if the tortfeasor recently changes work or other daily schedules.
In civil court, the victim/plaintiff must establish impairment by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Connect With Tenacious Lawyers
Car crashes which involve drugs, alcohol, or drowsiness are not accidental. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.