After intense efforts by groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, founded in 1980, most people are aware that drunk driving is dangerous and poses a threat to the driver and everyone else travelling on or near the roadway. People are quick to identify drunk driving as a safety threat, but fewer cite the broader problem of "driving while intoxicated" or "driving under the influence." These offenses encompass the use of not only alcohol, but also both legal and illegal drugs. A growing part of the DUI/DWI threat, and a rising concern to our Panama City DUI injury law firm, is the group of substances known as synthetic drugs.
The Office of National Drug Control Policy notes that synthetic drugs include synthetic marijuana (plant materials laced with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, and also called "Spice" or "K2") and so-called "bath salts," which contain man-made chemicals similar to amphetamines. These are sometimes sold in stores with labels, including a blanket "not for human consumption" statement, that mask their intended purpose and also avoid FDA oversight. A 2011 study found 11.4% of high school seniors used synthetic marijuana in the prior year, making it the second-most frequently used drug for the age group. Poison control centers and other public health groups have issued warnings about the adverse health risks of synthetic drugs, which include hallucinations, agitation, tremors, violent behavior, and elevated pulse and blood pressure
Efforts to ban synthetic drugs have been spreading across the nation. Last week, as reported by WJHG, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill banning 27 different forms of synthetic drugs, including Spice, K2, and bath salts. The ban went into immediate effect, making manufacturing or selling the substances a third-degree felony. Officials from the Bay County Sheriff's Office noted that they have to work to stay on top of trends in the synthetic drug arena because the chemical compounds used by manufacturers are ever-changing. Governor Scott noted that he hopes the ban will continue the trends that have Florida reporting crime rates at a 41-year low.
Synthetic drugs can pose a danger to both the user and those who come in contact with a person under the influence. Bath salts have been associated with some truly horrific headlines, including more than one case of reported cannibalistic activity. There is also a growing trend, and growing danger, associated with driving under the influence of synthetic drugs. Seacoast Online, a New Hampshire news source, reported on a rollover crash on April 9, 2013 involving serious injuries to both driver and passenger.
The driver admitted to using K2 prior to the accident, resulting in initial charges including aggravated driving while intoxicated. On March 5, as reported by West Virginia's WCHS, police found synthetic marijuana in a vehicle following an accident. The driver was paranoid and combative when police arrived, and they found a folding knife in his right hand when they tried to handcuff him. He was charged with obstructing and "driving under the influence of drugs."
It is impossible to know how many accidents have resulted from the use of synthetic drugs because they are hard to test for and the formulas are constantly changing. However, there is no question that the use of synthetic drugs is a threat to roadway safety. Our Panama City drugged driving lawyer is prepared to help the victims of car accidents caused by a driver using synthetic drugs. We can also help victims of other incidents stemming from the use of synthetic drugs seek monetary redress in Florida's courts. Call to schedule a free consultation.