Since many people think driving under the influence (DUI) only concerns alcohol and illicit drugs, the high risk that certain prescription drugs pose in relation to driving is frequently overlooked. At The Villari Firm, we are fighting to improve public safety by raising awareness of this issue. Recently, we represented the family of an 11-year-old girl, Isabelle Tezla, who was killed by a driver under the influence of prescription drugs, as reported by NBC New York.
It is true, no doubt, that prescription drugs are helpful in treating health conditions, but some types of these drugs have sedative effects that make it dangerous to drive. For instance, the newly hired bus driver in Tezla’s case had been taking the prescription opiate Tramadol, which is known to be addictive. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigative team found that the drug had heavily impacted the bus driver, weighing him down with fatigue and clouding his vigilance. On the day of the accident, the bus driver pulled out in front of a dump truck, which led to a collision in which the bus spun around and crashed into a pole, ultimately subjecting Tezla to a wrongful death.
Yet the bus driver had just passed a five-panel drug test — the most common drug screening for drivers and pilots in the United States. How? Unfortunately, the five-panel test does not check for the drug that had negatively affected the driver’s ability to operate a bus. Therefore, if a 10- or even 12-panel test became the standard in the U.S., the nation’s roads could become much safer. As James Greer of Accredited Drug Testing told NBC New York, the federal government only requires that pilots and drivers pass the five-panel test. This allows companies to forgo a more comprehensive (and more expensive) test and opt for the federally required five-panel one.
While discussing the matter with NBC New York, Attorney Heidi G. Villari explained, “The industry standards need to change, it’s not just what the federal government requires.”
Our firm is proud to have obtained a favorable settlement for Tezla’s family. However, she is not the only child to have suffered an untimely death due to a prescription drug DUI. Our legal team at The Villari Firm will continue to advocate for families affected by this public safety threat.
To arrange a free consultation with Attorney Villari, fill out an online contact form or call (215) 372-8889 today.