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California Marijuana Laws Raise Drugged Driving Concerns

States with Legalized Marijuana Show Increase in Car Accidents

A Courthouse News report states that marijuana-related car accidents may be on the rise in California. That coupled with multiple reports from states that have legalized medical and recreational marijuana show significantly higher rates of drugged-driving accidents, even as DUIs involving alcohol decline nationwide. The issue is particularly challenging for law enforcement agencies because this is unchartered territory. This is because while police have many tools to combat drunk driving, that’s not necessarily true when it comes to drugged driving.

Challenges for Law Enforcement

This is because, unlike alcohol, marijuana intoxication can be more difficult to measure. The results of a test could be distorted by any number of variables such as the user’s race, gender, frequency of use and even method of consumption. Marijuana can also be detected in a person’s blood or urine for up to 30 days after use, even if the intoxicating effects last only for a few hours.

To make matters more complicated state lawmakers have not yet updated criminal codes and hasn’t established legal limits with regard to marijuana. Police have no way of determining how high a driver might be even when they have reason to believe that pot use may have been a factor in an auto accident or a traffic stop.

There are currently three proposed measures all aiming to help police enforce drug laws in California. AB 6, for example, would set up a drugged driving task force to develop procedures for addressing drugged driving such as new field sobriety tests and breath or saliva tests to determine impairment. In some regions of California, officers have already begun using mouth swab test kits that detect the presence of six legal and illegal drugs including marijuana.

An Urgent Need

There is no question that it is critical for law enforcement to get the tools they need to ensure drivers don’t operate under the influence of marijuana. As California car accident lawyers who also represent DUI victims and their families, we are deeply concerned about statistics from other states where recreational marijuana has been legal. Colorado has reported an increase from 39 marijuana-related DUI deaths in 2013 to 68 in 2015. Similarly, Washington has reported a doubling of marijuana-related car accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of an impaired driver, please remember that you do have legal rights. Call an experienced California personal injury lawyer who will remain on your side, fight for your rights and help you seek maximum compensation for your losses.

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California Personal Injury Blog