Driving Under the Influence: Alcohol, Drugs, and Motor Vehicle Crashes

A Comprehensive Guide to the Literature for Personal Injury Lawyers

Publisher: Medifocus Legal
Publication Date: March 21, 2021
Number of Pages: 138

“Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is a well recognized slogan that has recently been widely publicized in the media by local law enforcement agencies throughout the country. The impetus for creating this campaign to prevent drunk driving is based on solid statistical data which indicates that almost 30 people are killed each day in drunk driving accidents in the United States. That’s one person every 30 minutes. In 2018, deaths from drunk driving crashes numbered numbered 10,511.

The level of alcohol in a person’s body, known as the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can be measured with either a device called a breathalyzer or by a blood test. Research shows an exponential increase of the relative risk for a crash with a linear increase in BAC. In the United States, it’s illegal to drive or otherwise operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08g/dL or higher. Even lower levels of BAC, however, can affect driving ability. For example, the typical effects of a BAC of 0.05g/dL may include exaggerated behavior, loss of small-muscle control (e.g., difficulty focusing the eyes), impaired judgement, and decreased alertness.

Like alcohol, a variety of other drugs have been found to impair a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. For example, recreational drugs such as marijuana and hashish can impair the psychomotor skills necessary for safe driving. In addition, prescription medications including opioids, benzodiazepines, antiepileptics, and antidepressants often cause side effects such as excessive drowsiness that can result in drug-impaired driving. Although drug-impaired drivers still show impairment during the battery of standardized field sobriety tests administered by police, drug testing screens are typically performed in scientific laboratories so that the results will be admissible in evidence at trial. Under the Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) program, additional tests are used to help law enforcement detect drug-impaired drivers. The DEC program is a 12-step process that a certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) can use to determine the specific category of drugs that a person who is suspected of drug-impaired driving has consumed.

Because the consequences of a DUI conviction are usually severe and may include multi-year jail terms, stiff financial penalties, and suspension or permanent revocation of a person’s driver’s license, individuals facing DUI charges typically retain the services of an attorney in hope of obtaining the best possible outcome.

Litigating drunk driving cases not only requires expertise in this specialized area of the law, but also requires a fundamental knowledge of the physiological, toxicological, and cognitive effects of alcohol and other drugs that can impair safely operating a motor vehicle. That’s why we produced the MediFocus Literature Guide to Driving Under the Influence: Alcohol, Drugs, and Motor Vehicle Crashes. This valuable Guide includes 180 journal article references published over the past two decades in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals with hyperlinks to the abstracts of each article. The Guide promises to be a valuable addition to the library of attorneys and law firms who specialize in litigating DUI cases.

Driving Under the Influence: Alcohol, Drugs, and Motor Vehicle Crashes is a one-of-a-kind literature reference Guide that includes:

  • A comprehensive bibliography of 190 journal article references indexed in MEDLINE published in well respected medical and scientific journals.
  • Online access to the abstracts (summaries) of the articles.
  • Online access to the free full-text version of 24 articles.
  • Links to full-text sources of other articles that are available for purchase directly from individual journal publishers.
  • A unique “Author Directory” consisting of the names and institutional affiliations of experts who have published and have specialized knowledge about Driving Under the Influence: Alcohol, Drugs, and Motor Vehicle Crashes. The “Author Directory” is a valuable resource for quickly identifying and locating experts for case reviews, opinions, and testimony.

Select examples of topics that are covered by the articles referenced in this Guidebook include:

  • Driver-related risk factors of fatal road traffic crashes associated with alcohol or drug impairment.
  • A Judicial Perspective on Expert Testimony in Marijuana Driving Cases.
  • Are oral fluid testing devices effective for the roadside detection of recent cannabis use? A systematic review.
  • Effects of alcohol at 0.05% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) on low speed urban driving.
  • Current defence strategies in some contested drink-drive prosecutions.
  • Police documentation of drug use in injured drivers: Implications for monitoring and preventing drug-impaired driving.
  • The accuracy of handheld pre-arrest breath test instruments as a predictor of the evidentialbreath alcohol test results.
  • DUI Countermeasures: differences between court jail sentences and jail time actually served andavailable alternative sanctions in select California counties..
  • Differences in combinations and concentrations of drugs of abuse in fatal intoxication and driving under the influence cases.
  • Variability in the blood/breath alcohol ratio and implications for evidentiary purposes.
  • Laboratory analysis of risky driving at 0.05% and 0.08% blood alcohol concentration.
  • Accuracy and reliability of breath alcohol testing by handheld electrochemical analysers.
  • The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests: a review of scientific and legal issues.
  • Blood alcohol analysis alone versus comprehensive toxicological analysis – Systematic investigation of missed co-ingested other drugs in suspected alcohol-impaired drivers.
  • Ethanol elimination rates at low concentrations based on two consecutive blood samples.
  • Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) examination characteristics of cannabis impairment.
  • Determination of safety margins for whole blood concentrations of alcohol and nineteen drugs in driving under the influence cases.
  • The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) and measures of cognitive functioning.
  • Delays in DUI blood testing: Impact on cannabis DUI assessments.
  • Blood from a line – Is it admissible?
The MediFocus Literature Guide on Driving Under the Influence: Alcohol, Drugs, and Motor Vehicle Crashes
is available in two formats:

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