Inhalants As A Cause Of Driver Impairment And Accidents

What Are Inhalants?

Inhalants are products that can be used by people to “get high.” Inhalants are further defined by the National Institutes Of Health (NIH) in a document titled “What Are Inhalants.” An excerpt:

Inhalants are volatile substances that produce chemical vapors that can be inhaled to induce a psychoactive, or mind-altering, effect. Although other abused substances can be inhaled, the term “inhalants” is used to describe a variety of substances whose main common characteristic is that they are rarely, if ever, taken by any route other than inhalation. This definition encompasses a broad range of chemicals that may have different pharmacological effects and are found in hundreds of different products. As a result, precise categorization of inhalants is difficult. One classification system lists four general categories of inhalants — volatile solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrites — based on the forms in which they are often found in household, industrial, and medical products.

A broad range of products have vapors that can be inhaled to achieve the desired intoxication. Some of these products, both household and industrial, whose vapors can be inhaled are listed in the NIH document, “DrugFacts – Inhalants.” Among those listed are the following:

  • Paint thinners
  • Paint removers
  • Gasoline
  • Correction fluids
  • Lighter fluid
  • Glue
  • Spray paint
  • Whipped cream aerosols
  • Leather cleaner

As seen in this list, many of these inhalants are common products that are readily available.

Vapors and fumes from these products are inhaled either through the nose or the mouth. As stated in the report, depending upon the method used for such inhalation, the inhalation method can be referred to as huffing, sniffing, bagging or snorting.

The Effects Caused By Inhalants

There are many potential effects caused by those who use inhalants. These effects depend upon many different factors, such as the type of inhalant, the frequency of its usage, and the user’s tolerance of such substances.

While inhalants can cause the person to “get high,” this “high” and accompanying feeling of euphoria will likely be temporary in nature. Because of this short-lived effect, the person using inhalants will likely have to use the inhalants often if the person wants to keep achieving the “high.”

Aside from the issue of whether the person can achieve a “high,” there are also adverse effects that can occur from huffing, sniffing, bagging and snorting. These ill effects include dizziness, lack of physical coordination, and slurred speech.

The inhalation of fumes and vapors can also lead to light-headedness, hallucinations and/or delusions, and drowsiness.

As well, an overdose is possible, which can cause a seizure or sudden heart stoppage.

Use Of Inhalants By Drivers

Given the effects of inhalants as discussed above, it is clear that if a driver uses inhalants before or during driving the risk of losing control of the vehicle increases. This loss of vehicle control will substantially increase the odds of an accident occurring. Due to the typical level of intoxication caused by inhalant use, if an accident occurs it often results in serious accident injuries. As seen in various Chicago-area accidents involving drivers who have been using inhalants, resulting injuries are often life-threatening in nature. Fatalities have occurred in many of these accidents.

The Chicago area has seen various accidents in which a driver has been huffing, sniffing, bagging or snorting chemicals. For example, a fatal pedestrian crash occurred in Highland Park on September 3, 2012. In this accident, a woman who had allegedly been huffing lost control of her car on Central Avenue and drove onto a nearby sidewalk. The car struck a family that was walking on the sidewalk. A 5-year-old girl was fatally injured and other family members were also hurt. A subsequent wrongful death lawsuit was filed.

Another fatal vehicle accident involved a driver in St. Louis that had been huffing. In this St. Louis accident a driver allegedly used inhalants prior to a crash. The driver lost control of the car and fatally struck a woman on a sidewalk. This fatal accident is further discussed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article of December 18, 2020 titled “Parent of victim in fatal crash file suit against driver accused of ‘huffing’…”

Driver Impairment Of All Types Remains A Serious Traffic Safety Problem

There are various types of driver impairment. In past decades, the most common form of impaired driving was drunk driving. While DUI driving still remains a serious traffic safety problem, in recent years drug-impaired driving has increased substantially.

If a driver uses drugs, there can be various effects on the ability to drive a vehicle. Drug-impaired driving is further discussed on the “Accidents Involving Drivers Who Are Impaired By Drug Use” page. “Drugged drivers” have caused many crashes in the Chicago area. Many of these accidents have caused serious injuries, and some have resulted in fatalities. As seen in these drug-impaired driving accidents, a broad range of drugs have been used. Most frequently used drugs include marijuana, cocaine, heroin and meth.

If You Have Been Significantly Injured By An Impaired Driver

Those who have been injured by an impaired driver, or those otherwise hurt because of another person’s negligence, often seek to get injury compensation. For those accidents or intentional acts which result in a person’s death, relevant parties can sue on behalf of the fatally injured person.

Elman Joseph Law Group’s Personal Injury Lawsuit Experience

The Elman Joseph Law Group has been winning lawsuit settlements and court awards for its clients for over 25 years. During this time, the firm has achieved many notable victories and awards. Some of these notable settlements and verdicts are discussed on the “Illinois Personal Injury Lawsuit Results And Litigation Capabilities” page.

A key factor of the Elman Joseph Law Group’s success has been its court trial performance. Many of its clients have achieved (significantly) higher injury compensation in court than they would have achieved had a lawsuit settlement been accepted.

Tony Elman, Lead Trial Attorney of the Elman Joseph Law Group, offers a free initial legal consultation for those that have been injured because of another person’s negligence. He can be reached at 773-392-8182 at any time…or at [email protected]

Elman Joseph Law Group handles all personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency basis…clients never pay a fee unless and until they receive money.