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Alcohol and Prescription Medications Can Seriously Impair a Driver's Cognitive and Physical Abilities

A horrendous end-of-year holidays 2009 car accident on I-264 saw the driver of a BMW neglect the barriers and caution signals at an HOV interchange and drive into the wrong lane. The end result was the death of Frances Wilson of Chesapeake, Virginia (VA). It was a true tragedy; two days before New Year's, and instead of enjoying the holidays, the victims family was forced to endure the grieving process.

This car crash featured such blatant negligence that one would suspect alcohol and/or prescription drugs abuse to be a factor. 
Two similar accidents occurred in Hampton Roads, and both of the at-fault drivers were driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Most people are aware of the risks associated with drinking and driving, but driving after 
consuming a prescription medication can be just as dangerous. Numerous medications have serious side effects, including drowsiness, an inability to concentrate and blurred vision. Any of these can cause a driver to commit an egregious error and seriously injure or kill someone in a car wreck.

A study conducted by a Maryland trauma center revealed roughly 34 percent of motor vehicle crash drivers admitted to testing positive for "drugs only" while only 16 percent tested positive for "alcohol only." And these are only the people who were willing to admit their test results, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

An even worse scenario that's becoming commonplace is the combination of drinking and consuming prescription drugs. With more than 2,800 prescription drugs available in the United States and 14 billion prescriptions written each year, the prevalence of drivers consuming a lethal mixture of drugs and alcohol are having devastating effects on the highways in Virginia. 

The police investigation of the fatal I-264 crash hasn't revealed why the at-fault driver displayed such disregard for the caution signals and interchange barriers, but given the history of these types of accidents and the reckless behavior displayed in causing this wreck, I wouldn't be surprised if alcohol and/or misuse of prescription drugs played a role.  

When drugs or drink are the cause of a wreck, then under Virginia law the at fault driver's insurer may have to pay punitive damages beyond the money to compensate the family of a person killed in an accident. These punitive damages are to punish the wrongdoer for their reckless conduct. If the drunk driver dies too though, these damages may not be available.