Xanax, used to help patients sleep, can impair drivers and cause accidents resulting in serious injuries and deaths says Boca car accident lawyer Joe Osborne.
Do you think a prescription drug can’t harm you? If so you should think again. One common prescription drug that can lead to addiction is Xanax (or alprazolam), which by itself, or in combination with other drugs and/or alcohol, can impair a driver’s abilities to the point where he or she is too dangerous to safely drive. Boca car accident lawyer Joe Osborne represents those injured by drivers impaired by Xanax and other drugs.
Xanax is a central nervous system depressant, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which states these types of drugs are normally prescribed for anxiety, acute stress reactions and panic attacks. Xanax is considered one of the more sedating drugs of the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It’s often prescribed for short-term treatment of sleep problems. Benzodiazepines are not normally prescribed for long term use because patients run a high risk of developing dependence or addiction.
Side effects of the drug can include drowsiness, dizziness, mental or mood changes (such as hallucinations and suicidal thoughts), slurred speech or difficulty talking, loss of coordination, trouble walking and memory problems, reports WebMD.
It’s not clear how common drugged driving has become because unlike alcohol use, there’s no simple, accurate, quick test to determine the level of drugs in a driver’s system. The state highway patrol and the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office arrest records don’t separate drivers accused of being impaired by alcohol and drugs, they’re both considered driving under the influence (DUI), according to the Sun Sentinel.
Florida keeps statistics on accidents where drugs are believed to play a role. They were suspected in almost two thousand accidents across Florida in 2015 but drug use was confirmed in only 557 cases. That year there were 16,400 crashes where alcohol use was suspected with 5,522 cases where that use was confirmed.
In 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 21% of the 32,166 fatal vehicle accidents in the country involved a driver who tested positive for at least one drug. That’s a sharp increase from the 12% of the 39,252 fatal accidents in 2004.
At least one driver involved in a fatal, Florida accident claims it wasn’t so much the Xanax use that impaired her driving, it was the withdrawal symptoms she was suffering while trying to stop taking it, reports the Miami Herald. April Thomason faces a murder charge after a 2015 vehicle accident killed a pedestrian in Key West. In May Thomason plead that she was innocent on the grounds of insanity caused by use of and withdrawal from Benadryl and Xanax.
She claims she was suffering from Severe Anxiolytic Withdrawal Syndrome at the time which caused her to be psychotic and delusional and unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of her actions, including running over the victim. Thomason told police she had been awake for five days and was taking Benadryl and Xanax but trying to stop taking the Xanax.
While alcohol impaired drivers are more common, those impaired by drugs, both legal and illegal, are no less dangerous. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident caused by a driver impaired by drug use, contact Boca car accident lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 293-2600 or fill out this online contact form. You can discuss your case, how the law may apply and your best legal options to protect your rights and obtain compensation for your injuries.