Many people assume that impaired driving only involves alcohol consumption. However, nowadays there are unfortunately many ways in which a driver can be too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle. Both illegal and prescription drugs, as well as some non-prescription drugs such as sleep aids, can dramatically reduce a driver’s alertness and ability to concentrate.

For the victims of any type of drunk driving accident, though, it doesn’t matter what type of drug was involved. All that matters is that their loved one is permanently gone and cannot be brought back. In September, a fatal accident took place in Virginia Beach that has recently made headlines again due to one driver’s drug use being revealed.

The incident occurred on I-64 when a 29-year-old driver’s vehicle started crossing lanes and eventually veered into the center median before heading into traffic going the opposite direction. He struck a vehicle and two people in that car died as a result: a 31-year-old woman and her 12-year-old daughter. The driver was later found to have had a high concentration of both tramadol and cyclobenzaprine in his system at the time of the accident. Interestingly, the driver mentioned he was on his way to a drug abuse support group meeting when the crash happened.

Prescription drugs are a lifesaver for many Virginians, but they must be taken as directed and not abused. In this case, the interaction between the two drugs likely exacerbated the side effects of delayed reaction time and dizziness. There should never be a head-on collision because a person didn’t properly take their medication, but sadly these things can happen anywhere and at any time.

In criminal court, the drugged driver is sometimes charged with involuntary manslaughter. In civil court, the same driver can often be sued for personal injury or wrongful death. The outcome of a wrongful death suit is intended to make victims’ families whole again. This doesn’t mean that the deceased can be brought back, but rather that the financial and emotional hole left by another’s negligence or recklessness can be filled with appropriate compensation for specific damages.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot, “Driver in fatal Va. Beach crash was on two drugs,” Margaret Matray, Mar. 1, 2014