BUFFALO, N.Y. – Impaired driving has long been a problem in the United States since the invention of the horseless carriage. All 50 states have enacted legislation requiring a driver’s blood alcohol level (or BAC) to be under 0.08% but when a driver is under the influence of a substance other than alcohol, law enforcement agencies are forced to use more resources to tackle the problem.
Recently, Buffalo Police reported a crash that injured three people, including the driver of the vehicle. Officers told news reporters the driver and the passengers all passed out in the car as the result of heroin use.
“Drug driving can be even more dangerous than drunk driving and police are reporting these incidents more often around the city of Buffalo,” car accident attorney Ross Cellino said.
Cellino, a co-founder of the Law Offices of Cellino and Barnes, said drug driving cases can cause severe injuries not only to the drivers and passengers under the influence of the drug but also to other drivers or pedestrians who can inadvertently get involved in a wreck.
“It is literally an everyday thing with the accident rate going through the roof,” Erie County Sheriff Deputy Simon Biegasiewicz told WKBW-TV.
In Western New York, police agencies are relying on specially-trained drug recognition experts to identify the substance an individual is high on so first responders can properly test and provide treatment for overdoses.
“These experts are often called to the scene of an accident,” Cellino said. “It can get even more complex when drivers are on multiple opiates and in many cases, they don’t have car insurance and that can leave their victims with few places to turn to pay for their medical bills.”
Current statistics show drug driving could be just as common as or even more common than drunk driving. This is due, in part, by an increased number of prescription and over-the-counter medications that often advise against the operation of motor vehicles.