Archive for March, 2019

Buffalo attorney considers drugged driving laws in face of legalization of marijuana

Mar 2019

Buffalo auto accident attorneyAs New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pushes legislators to legalize marijuana, concerns are being raised about the issue of potential drugged driving.

Buffalo drivers need to know what drugged driving is, how driving high could affect them, and how the legalization of marijuana could potentially change the law. The answers to these questions are unclear as the debate over legalizing marijuana continues.

How marijuana use can affect drivers

The New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) states that Delta (9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most important psychoactive substance in cannabis, is often detected in blood from drivers suspected of drugged driving.

THC affects areas of the brain that control the following:

  • Movements
  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Memory
  • Judgment
  • Sensation

The OASAS states that although these effects are known, most laws relating to impaired driving have dealt with alcohol.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, drugged driving is more complicated than drunk driving for several reasons, including limited data and the lack of a single test to detect the hundreds of drugs that could influence a driver.

How is drugged driving tested and how can driving high affect you?

Officer Albert Wheech of the Rochester Police Department is one of the 15 to 20 Drug Recognition Experts, or DREs, in the county, according to a report by WHAM.

Wheech, who said he makes about 200 arrests a year for both DWI and DUI, told the ABC affiliate that all DREs go through extensive training to learn how to detect an impaired driver. He also said there is a marijuana pre-test similar to a breathalyzer; however, it is expensive.

Police departments throughout the state will need to consider how and when to invest in training and equipment of this kind. Driving high can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, creating the same risks for all vehicles on the road.

An increase in opioids

In Monroe County, alcohol or drugs played a role in 15 fatal crashes in 2017. It was the same number in 2016.

We should expect to see this number increasing. A study co-authored by Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University Medical Center, found that car crashes involving a driver under the influence of painkillers have tripled in the past 25 years.

Dr. Li confirms also that the “use of prescription opioids plays a significant role in the causation of fatal motor vehicle crashes.”

Injured in a drugged driving accident? Contact us!

As Buffalo and all of New York inches closer to legalizing marijuana, the Law Offices of James Morris continue to stay on top of potential changes in laws. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a driver under the influence, contact the Law Offices of James Morris for a free consultation.

A Buffalo Attorney Discusses Saint Patrick’s Day and Drunk Driving

Mar 2019

Buffalo auto accident attorneyMany Buffalo residents and visitors are gearing up to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Last year, Buffalo ranked No. 4 among the top ten cities in the US celebrating this holiday. In fact, the 78th annual celebration parade in downtown Buffalo brought out an estimated 50,000 people.

Saint Patrick’s Day is commonly known as a drinking holiday, which comes with risks that revelers should be prepared for.

Be aware. Drunk drivers will be out this season.

According to WalletHub, about 60 percent of Americans planned to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in 2018. The rate at which drunk driving causes a fatality during the holiday is every 36 minutes. About 75 percent of fatal crashes involve drivers who have consumed twice the legal limit.

Additionally, Saint Patrick’s Day is the 4th most popular day to consume alcohol – just behind Fourth of July, Christmas, and New Year’s.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 60 people were killed in fatal crashes during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period in 2016.

Despite the repeated slogan “don’t drink and drive,” it’s probable that many drivers will be under the influence of alcohol this Saint Patrick’s Day. Police will likely be out in full force looking to keep drunk drivers off the road, but unfortunately many of these drivers will go under the radar and it will be the responsible drivers who pay.

Identifying negligence in drunk driving accidents

At the Law Offices of James Morris, we have seen the devastation caused by drunk drivers. A single crash can change a victim’s life forever. Injuries can range from broken bones to permanent spinal cord injuries – leaving a victim with a heap of medical expenses, financial hardship, and loss of life enjoyment.

At worse, a drunk driving accident can result in someone’s death, causing emotional and psychological suffering to loved ones.

Determining negligence in a drunk driving case can often be simple. When police respond to a crash, they will most likely test the at-fault driver to determine his or her blood alcohol content.

In some cases, drunk driving accident cases can be more complex, if a bar or establishment can be held accountable for knowingly serving alcohol to an apparently intoxicated individual or minor under New York’s dram shop law (General Obligations, Section 11-101).

Should you or a loved one be injured in a car accident due to a drunk driver’s reckless behavior, you may be eligible for compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering. It’s important that you contact our law firm to get started on your personal injury claim. We offer free case evaluations and operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay unless we win.