Personal Injury Lawyers • Portland and Waterville, ME

Where does drug or alcohol impairment really begin?

Maine car accident attorneys

Those who drive while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol may get away with it dozens of times. At best, they may get pulled over by police, arrested and charged with DUI. At worst, they end up causing a serious crash that injures or kills someone.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 10,500 people died in drunk driving crashes across the United States in 2018 — 42 of those deaths happened in Maine.

The problem with impaired drivers is that they rarely think they'll ever get caught or cause a crash. If a crash can happen when a driver is completely sober, it's far more likely to happen when a driver is impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.

What kinds of substances cause impairment?

According to the Maine Department of Public Safety, the types of substances that can cause impaired driving include:

  • Marijuana. While marijuana is legal for recreational use in Maine, it's not safe to drive while under the influence of THC. That's because it can cause impaired judgment of space and time, slowed reaction time, disconnected thinking and poor memory.
  • Hallucinogens. Those who use strong hallucinogens like LSD, PCP and mescaline lose all sense of what is happening around them. This can lead to impaired judgment, perception and control on the road.
  • Inhalants. Inhaling glue, solvents and aerosols can have a similar, but less potent, effect as hallucinogens.
  • Stimulants. Uppers, like cocaine and methamphetamine, can cause drivers to make dangerous and irrational decisions on the road, leading to speeding, aggressive driving, and road rage.
  • Sedatives. Downers, such as barbiturates and tranquilizers, can cause severe drowsiness and impaired coordination.
  • Over-the-counter drugs. Over-the-counter drugs that contain antihistamines are often used to treat respiratory infections and allergies, which can lead to drowsy driving.
  • Narcotics. Heroin, morphine and codeine have similar effects as sedatives.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol consumption can cause impaired judgment, slowed reaction time, loss of physical coordination, loss of control and declined visual functioning.
  • Prescription medications. Like over-the-counter drugs, some prescription medications can cause severe drowsiness.
  • Combinations of substances. When more than one substance is combined, impairment can be amplified. In addition, drivers are at risk of dangerous blackouts or medical events.

What is the threshold for legal impairment in Maine?

Driving requires keen attention, physical coordination, good judgment, quick reaction time and control. Drivers who are impaired by drugs or alcohol lack the abilities that are needed to safely operate a car.

It's common knowledge that driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher is illegal in Maine. It's also known that drivers who get pulled over and found to be under the influence of recreational drugs can be arrested and charged with DUI.

What we don't often hear about are impaired drivers who aren't technically breaking any laws or who slip under the radar. According to the NHTSA, alcohol impairment can start at a BAC as low as 0.02 percent and become more pronounced at 0.05 percent. This is often known as "buzzed driving," which can still increase the risk of being involved in a crash.

Contact our law firm if you were injured by an impaired driver

If you or a loved one was injured in a crash with an impaired driver, speak to an experienced car accident attorney at Jabar LaLiberty & Dubord, LLC. Our legal team will investigate your impaired driving crash and get the evidence needed to support your claim. We've been helping crash victims and their families get the compensation they deserve since 1979.

To get started on your claim, contact our firm and schedule your free legal consultation. Our law offices are based in Portland and Waterville.

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