While drunk driving is widely publicized, it is actually drugged driving that is claiming more lives across Tennessee.
Drugged driving deaths have surpassed drunk driving deaths for the first time in the state’s history, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
In 2015, there were 174 deaths resulting from accidents where drugs were involved. There were only 136 drunk driving deaths during that period and 51 deaths resulting from distracted driving accidents.
Tennessee officials expect this year’s traffic fatalities to break the streak of declining accident deaths from the past three years. Toxicology tests pinpointing the causes behind increased traffic deaths will not be available for months, as forensic laboratories are overwhelmed by the number of drug tests to be analyzed.
Prosecutors cite the growing opioid epidemic as a contributor to the growing number of car accident deaths. Drug-related deaths in Tennessee rose 90 percent from 2010 to 2015, with opiates and benzodiazepines most often involved. Marijuana and methamphetamine have also been found in the blood of drivers who have caused deadly accidents in Tennessee.
Criminal cases involving drugged driving deaths are more complicated due to limited testing methods used to identify drugged driving, according to prosecutors. In drunk driving cases, there is a clear standard to mark intoxication: a blood alcohol concentration of .08. In drugged driving cases, there is no such standard to indicate where impairment begins.
The state is working to combat drugged driving as more police officers are receiving training to better identify drivers under the influence of drugs. Their goal is to catch impaired drivers before accidents take place.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by a drugged driver, you may be entitled to compensation. The Knoxville car accident lawyers at Greg Coleman Law will fight for justice for your family and help you get the compensation you deserve.