Undoubtedly, opiate addiction in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. Specifically, heroin is cheaper and more plentiful than ever before, and prescription pill abuse is rampant, according to the MinnPost(see link below). As the number of addicts increase, so too will the instances of driving while impaired by heroin.
Heroin-related accidents are occurring with great frequency. Pursuant to a recent report issued by a local Madison Wisconsin news station, police investigated a single-car accident involving a Madison, WI woman who drove into a tree. The driver, who was charged with a fourth offense of driving under the influence, told officers that she took heroin before driving and also informed the Good Samaritans of same who rushed to help her after falling asleep at the wheel. Also, in late June of 2015, a woman driving with her young children crashed into a fire hydrant in Cincinnati, OH. The driver passed out and had a Blood Alcohol Concentration of 0.199. The driver also had three hypodermic needles and a spoon in her car, indicative of heroin use. By-standers told police that the driver kept driving even though she was swerving and could not maintain control of her car.
Heroin-fueled accidents occurred in 2014 as well. In Dayton, OH last November, a women driving while impaired by heroin drove through a stop sign and caused a crash involving a school bus and another car in which that driver was seriously injured. The police officer investigating the crash told The Dayton Daily News that heroin has many of the same effects on driving as alcohol, but can actually be more dangerous. The officer related that heroin users shoot up as soon as they get it, which means they are are likely getting high while in their cars. Whether ingested intravenously or inhaled, heroin enters the system much faster than alcohol, causing almost immediate intoxication. Heroin-related crashes occurred in Minnesota too. According to the St. Cloud Times, a Fort Ripley man was arrested for driving while impaired by heroin after losing control of his car and crashing into trees. Police found heroin and drug paraphernalia in his mangled car.
Driving while under the influence of heroin is particularly dangerous, as illustrated by the above reports. Heroin affects the central nervous system and can mimic the effects of someone who is extremely intoxicated. According to information published by the Australia Drug Foundation, a person high on heroin will frequently start to get drowsy, has blurred or obscured vision, has a reduced ability to think clearly, and responds slowly to situations. A person who is falling asleep, has blurry vision, and is slow to react cannot safely driver a car. Alcohol consumption coupled with heroin ingestion intensifies the “sedative effects” of both substances. This combination is potentially lethal because the danger of overdosing increases as a result of blood pressure decrease and heart rate slowing, according to the University of Notre Dame’s Center Student Health Promotion and Well-Being.
As noted above, many link the opiate epidemic to prescription pain killer abuse. Physicians not only have a duty to prevent over-prescribing pain medication but also to ensure that their patients are warned about the safety hazards driving after taking prescription pain killers. According to Medscape, Dr. Gerald Aronoff, M.D. argued in a presentation in 2014 that his fellow physicians should be concerned about the unintended consequences opiates have on their patients’ ability to drive. He recognized the inherent danger of driving while taking opiates, even if prescribed. Dr. Aronoff advocated for measuring the effect of opiate on patients by noting their level of alertness and proactively measuring motor skills and contacting the local driver’s licensing authority to report patients who are potentially unsafe on the roads.
Call the Kans Law Firm, LLC for Immediate Help
If you or a loved one are suffering from a heroin or other opiate addiction and have been charged with Driving While Impaired, call us for help. Attorney Doug Kans is a former prosecutor who understands the nature of addiction and will fight for you to help you get treatment instead of jail. The Top Rated Minneapolis, Minnesota Kans Law Firm, LLC will advocate for you with vigor and compassion. Call us today at (952) 835-6314 and we will stand by you every step of the way.