Recreational marijuana became legal in California on Jan.1. Since then, police agencies in the state have been trying to come up ways to determine what constitutes impaired driving when it comes to marijuana. But, according to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, this hasn’t been easy. The Times gives the example of a San Diego police officer pulling over a driver who admitted to smoking pot on a regular basis and passing every single field sobriety test the police officer administered without any problems.
Challenges with Enforcing the Law
While a Breathalyzer would’ve determined if the man was drunk or had alcohol in his system, there is no clear way yet to determine whether a driver is operating a vehicle with marijuana in his or her system. Some agencies are testing out Breathalyzer-like devices for pot, but it is not yet being widely used. Police across the state are starting to get worried about stoned drivers operating freely on our roadways. California has not established a “per se” level such as a 0.08 percent BAC that would make a person legally too drugged to drive.
Police officers currently take a two-week training course on how to conduct cognitive tests and spot other physical signs of drug-related impairment during a traffic stop. California Highway Patrol officers have the training to do a 12-step examination that includes a battery of tests including taking the person’s blood pressure and pulse several times. But, many are concerned that the lack of an objective intoxication standard in addition to allowing drugged drivers to slip through the cracks, could also give law enforcement too much power over whom they stop and/or arrest.
Marijuana and Car Crashes
Statistics nationally show that the number of fatal car accidents involving people with marijuana in their system has increased steadily from 2013 to 2016. As California car accident lawyers, we are deeply concerned about the lack of a standard to arrest drivers who are operating under the influence of marijuana at a time when the drug has been legalized for recreational use.
Driving under the influence of marijuana does impair one’s skills and judgment. It could have devastating consequences and result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Please do not use marijuana and drive. Even if you do not face criminal charges or prosecution, you could be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses you cause. Injured victims of DUI crashes can seek compensation for losses including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, permanent injuries, pain and suffering and emotional distress.