States with Legalized Marijuana Show Increase in Car Accidents
A new study involving nearly 800 medical marijuana users in Michigan showed that half of all participants admitted to driving “a little high.” According to a report in Medical Daily, about a fifth of the participants said they have been “very high” at some point while driving. Lead researchers for the study say it is seriously concerning from a public health perspective that people are driving while impaired after using medical marijuana.
Driving While High
How safe is it to drive while high? Researchers say the level of risk is linked to how high a person is at the time, which is usually measured by the tetrahydrocannabinol or THC level in their blood. The legal limit in most states specifies that drivers with five nanograms of active THC in their blood can be prosecuted for driving under the influence. Safety experts favor a zero-tolerance standard.
Some others say driving while high should be treated as a traffic infraction rather than a crime unless the driver goes over the speed limit or shows signs of aggression and recklessness. This is because the THC blood level testing is not a very accurate way of measuring a person’s impairment. Traces of the drug can be detected long after the “high” has passed and can remain in the system for as long as a month.
Some companies have started creating Breathalyzers for testing marijuana impairment and law enforcement agencies, including a few in Southern California, have begin testing their effectiveness. Marijuana can affect cognitive abilities that play a role in driving, attention, motor coordination, reflexes, etc. Past studies have suggested that people who are high are more aware of their impairment than people who are drunk.
Impaired Driving is Dangerous
Whether you have been drinking alcohol or smoking pot, be it for recreational or medicinal purposes, it is important that you not drive while under the influence. Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (recreational, medicinal or prescription) is illegal under California Vehicle Code 23152 (a).
As California car accident lawyers, we hope the state enforces strict laws when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana. Failing to do so could result in devastating crashes that have the potential to cause major injuries or even fatalities. If you have been injured as a result of an accident caused by an impaired driver, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses.