When you think about impaired driving, you most likely think about drunk driving (driving under the influence of alcohol) or drugged driving (driving under the influence of drugs). Both drugged driving and drunk driving are crimes in Pennsylvania. As an experienced Erie criminal defense attorney, I can attest to the strict penalties of a DUI conviction in our state. That is why I urge everyone who has been stopped and ticketed for DUI to contact an experienced Erie DUI attorney before saying anything to the police or the prosecution.
However, impaired driving is not only limited to drunk driving or drugged driving (or buzzed driving). There are many reasons why a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely can be impaired. Some of those reasons may or may not lead to a criminal charge.
Cognitive Impairments That Impact Driving Ability
Cognitive impairments may include dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. For many seniors, developing either of these conditions has numerous implications, including losing the ability to drive an automobile. To drive safely, you must have both your physical and mental faculties. Sadly, giving up the car keys is often associated with a loss of autonomy and freedom. AARP and AAA have information on their websites about how to tell when a loved one should stop driving and how to talk to your loved one about giving up the keys.
Physical Conditions That Can Impair Driving
In addition to cognitive concerns, many people have physical conditions or medical conditions that impair their ability to operate a vehicle. For example, someone who experiences seizures could cause a traffic accident. Some people with epilepsy can control their seizures with medication allowing them to drive. However, Uncontrollable convulsions can be triggered by other conditions that the driver may not be aware he has at that time.
The same applies to people who have diabetes. Diabetes, even when it is controlled with medication, can cause a person’s sugar to fluctuate significantly. When those fluctuations are outside of the normal parameters, the person can slip into unconsciousness or experience a seizure.
Other examples of illnesses that can cause sudden medical emergencies include heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Those at risk for a stroke or a heart attack could suffer a life-threatening episode while driving. For that matter, anyone could suffer from a life-threatening medical condition while driving. It is simply not limited to individuals who have a higher risk.
Who is Responsible for a Traffic Accident?
It is important that if a person is diagnosed with a medical condition or illness that could impair the ability to drive, that person must have a serious conversation with his or her physician. The physician is the only one, with the assistance of the patient, who can determine if it is safe to continue operating a motor vehicle. In some cases, the doctor may be required to report the person’s health condition to the DMV, and the person’s driving privileges may be revoked or restricted. In any case, the person’s safety and the safety of all others on the road should be the top priority.
However, as mentioned above, even someone in perfect health could have a medical emergency that results in a car accident. Therefore, who pays the damages? That answer depends on many factors that can only be judged on a case-by-case basis. The first step is hiring an Erie car accident attorney who has the knowledge and experience necessary to investigate and handle such a complex car accident claim.
Call an Experienced Erie Car Accident Attorney Now
Don’t trust a complex accident claim to an attorney with less experience. Contact The Travis Law Firm toll-free at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our attorneys.