“Driving Under The Influence” In a Motor Vehicle Accident Case

Date: June 8, 2010
Posted In: DLP Law

Jennifer was traveling east on Route 6 between Tafton and Milford, when all of a sudden and without warning Sleepy Sam, driving in the opposite direction, crossed the center line causing an almost head-on collision. The state police were quick to investigate and Sleepy Sam had a .06 blood alcohol level, according to the police report. Since the blood alcohol level was below .08, it was insufficient to charge Sam with driving under the influence.

It came out during litigation, though, that Sam was taking special medication which had specific instructions on it that it was NOT to be taken with alcohol. As it turned out, the medication along with the alcohol, as all the medical experts agreed, would have impaired Sam\’s ability to drive.

Issue: Will the combination of the medication and the alcohol be admissible in evidence?

Answer: Yes. Pennsylvania law defines “driving under the influence” to include not only alcohol but also a controlled substance and/or a combination of both. Even if Sam was not aware of the effects of the combination, he would be liable for the effects of the same.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.