While drunk driving is down in West Virginia, fatalities and arrests involving drugged driving are up.
In recent years a lot of progress has been made towards tackling the problem of drunk driving in West Virginia. Both drunk driving arrests and fatalities have been on a downward trend, which has helped drive down overall traffic fatalities in the state. However, as the State Journal reports, while drunk driving is down, drug-impaired driving is up. Fatal car accidents caused by drugged drivers has increased substantially and now outpaces fatalities attributed to drunk driving.
Impaired driving in West Virginia
Impaired driving is a major problem in West Virginia. Each year between 8,500 and 10,000 people are arrested in the Mountain State for DUI, which can include impairment by either drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, in 2016 there were 1,897 accidents that caused either injury or death in West Virginia that were attributed to drugs or alcohol.
While impaired driving remains a safety hazard, what has changed is the type of impairment that is causing so many accidents. Last year, for example, there were 67 fatalities caused by drunk drivers, which was down significantly from just a decade ago. Drugged driving, however, has increased substantially, with officials estimating 81 deaths caused by drugged drivers in 2016. In fact, as WDTV News reports, a recent study ranked West Virginia as having the deadliest drugged drivers in the country, with 2.33 fatal drugged driving accidents for every 100,000 residents.
Understanding drugged driving
One of the problems with tackling drugged driving is that many people have a misconception about what driving under the influence of drugs actually means. When people think of drug-impaired driving they often think of illegal drugs. But the fact is that any drug that impairs one’s driving is prohibited when behind the wheel. That includes drugs that one may even have a prescription for.
While drugged driving is a big safety hazard, police are making efforts to crack down on the problem. That includes training officers to be better equipped to identify drugged drivers and increasing enforcement on the roads and highways. Under current state law, anybody convicted of their first drugged driving offense faces a minimum penalty of a 90-day license suspension.
Personal injury law
Drugs, alcohol, and other threats can make driving risky for everybody on the road in West Virginia. When an accident happens, the consequences can be physically, emotionally, and financially devastating. Anybody who has been hurt in an accident should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will be able to help clients navigate the various legal challenges that arise following an accident, including with making a claim for any financial compensation the client may be entitled to.