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Michigan’s Drug Impaired Car Accident Lawyer

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In 2019, 42.5% of fatal car accidents in Michigan involved drugs. If you were involved in a car crash with a driver under the influence of drugs, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. We can work on your behalf to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

Michigan Impaired Driving Laws

Michigan law states that a person is guilty of driving under the influence (DUI) if found operating the vehicle while intoxicated with a controlled substance. This law applies whether or not they have a license. When a driver is found to have been under the influence of drugs and driving, the following penalties apply:

  • First offense: A maximum of 360 hours of community service, 93 days in jail, or a fine of $300.
  • Second offense: The fine for committing another DUI within 7 years of the first should not be less than $200 or more than $1,000. It may include imprisonment for at least 5 days, but no more than 1 year, or community service for 30 to 90 days.
  • Third offense: A third offense, regardless of how much time has passed after the first two, is a felony charge. It can include a fine of between $500 to $5,000. Imprisonment can last between 1 to 5 years. Another possibility is a probationary sentence that includes imprisonment for at least 30 days up to 1 year and community service anywhere from 60-180 days.

A Michigan Supreme Court ruling in the case of People vs. Koon (2013) held that the state’s medical marijuana law overrides the zero tolerance law. Because of this ruling, qualified medical marijuana patients may not face charges of DUI. The state must prove a driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time for a possible conviction of a DUI.

How to Prove Liability in a Drug-Impaired Accident

Law enforcement officers look for signs of drug impairment at the scene. This is sometimes referred to as an impairment DUI. The officer may conduct a field sobriety test, notice signs of unusual behavior or slurred speech, and witnesses may have observed how the driver was operating their vehicle.

If the driver refuses to go under a chemical test from the police officer, the officer can obtain a court order to do so. The refusal to submit to a chemical test is admissible for criminal prosecution to demonstrate the police officer offered the test to the driver. However, it is not evidence to show if the driver is innocent or guilty in the accident under Michigan law.

You and your lawyer can work to prove the driver’s negligence in the accident using the police officer’s report of the driver’s appearance and actions. If the police officer managed to perform a chemical test, the lawyer can review the toxicology report. They can also rely on surveillance footage, photos of the crash site, and witness statements detailing the driver’s behavior to help bolster your car accident claims.

Types of Drug-Impaired Car Accident Claims

You can make a few claims to recover compensation from the other driver in case of a drug impaired driving accident.

No-Fault Benefits

Michigan is a no-fault state, meaning every driver must have personal injury protection insurance (PIP) to cover medical costs in the event of an accident. PIP claims cover some basic expenses, including up to 85% of lost income for three years and all medical bills.

You can also gain compensation for necessary household and attendant services if you sustained severe injuries from your accident.

Third-Party Non-Economic Loss Damages Claim

If your medical bills and lost wages exceed your auto insurance policy’s limits, you may be entitled to more compensation if your attorney can prove negligence. If the driver was charged with driving under the influence, they would be considered negligent since all drivers are expected to follow all laws and drive safely.

Since the other driver was drug impaired and, therefore, at fault, you may file a third-party claim for excess medical expenses and lost wages. You can also receive additional compensation, such as pain and suffering compensation.

To be eligible for pain and suffering damages, you must prove your injury meets the serious injury threshold. This means that your injury must have caused serious impairment to a bodily function or permanent disfigurement. Seeing your doctor after getting in an accident is crucial since your doctor can document the severity of your injury.

Under Michigan’s modified comparative fault doctrine, you must demonstrate that you were less than 51% responsible for the accident to be eligible for these claims. You will likely meet this threshold if evidence shows that drugs impaired the other driver.

If the driver was charged with driving under the influence, they would be considered negligent since all drivers are expected to follow all laws and drive safely.

Vehicle Damage Mini-Tort

If the impaired driver damaged your vehicle in the accident, you can file a mini tort claim against them. You can recover up to $3,000 for vehicle repairs.

Drugs That Can Impair Drivers

Under Michigan law, the possession of Schedule 1 drugs and cocaine is enough to be charged with driving under the influence. Schedule 1 substances are drugs with a high potential for abuse. They are not currently accepted for medical use in the United States. Common examples of Schedule 1 drugs include:

  • Heroin
  • LSD
  • MDMA
  • Psilocybin Mushrooms
  • Mescaline
  • Marihuana and Synthetic Marihuana

Even if the drug is not considered Schedule 1, drivers can be subject to driving while intoxicated charges if their consumption leads to impairment. Common drugs that may lead to impairment include:

  • Amphetamines or methamphetamines, including prescription amphetamines like Adderall
  • Opioids, including prescription painkillers like oxycodone
  • Benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam and diazepam
  • Barbiturates, such as phenobarbital
  • Prescription sleep aids, like zolpidem
  • Gabapentinoids, such as gabapentin
  • Antidepressant medications, such as SSRIs or SNRIs
  • Over-the-counter stimulants, including ephedrine
  • Over-the-counter cold and allergy medications, including diphenhydramine and dextromethorphan

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How Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. Can Help Drug-Impaired Accident Victims

If another driver causes you severe injuries while under the influence of drugs, you may be entitled to additional compensation. You will need the experienced car accident lawyers at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. to fight for you.

When we establish an attorney-client relationship with you, we will evaluate the facts of your case. We can also review your auto insurance coverage and advise you if you can file a third-party claim. If you need to file a claim, we can offer legal guidance at every step so you can get the maximum compensation possible.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529) and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

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