Car Accidents and Marijuana

Driving safely is impossible if you’re impaired. It’s why driving while impaired by any legal or prohibited substance is illegal everywhere in America.

However, many are still overconfident enough to drive under the influence.

Alcohol is commonly detected in crash-involved drivers. Drinking and driving can put drivers and their passengers at great risk as it affects the driver’s ability to concentrate, make good judgments, and react quickly to situations.

Next to alcohol, especially with the new medical marijuana law, marijuana is the most frequently detected drug in drivers involved in car crashes.

Under the influence of marijuana, your motor skills, lane tracking, and cognitive functions – all of which are essential skills required for safe driving – can be impaired.

As nearly two-thirds of America legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, adverse health effects and potential risks of driving while intoxicated became a concern.

Marijuana intoxication can cause impaired driving, thereby associated this increase in impaired driving with the drug.

There have been reports of a 6 percent increase in the number of highway crashes in four states that legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Here are some key takeaways to remember before getting behind the wheel after smoking or ingesting cannabis.


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Marijuana Impairs Cognition and Motor Skills

Many misconceptions state that marijuana can make you become a safer driver compared to drinking alcohol.

More than half of Americans believe it’s safe to drive when you’re high. However, several scientific studies indicate that marijuana-impaired driving isn’t as safe as we think.

Driving a vehicle is a complicated task. It requires the cooperation of several different cognitive and psychomotor functions at once. Driving while impaired can make the job unsafe not just for the driver but the passengers as well.

Even a moderate dose of cannabis would impair driving performance. You would have a slower reaction time, more difficulty controlling your trajectory, trouble coordinating your movements, therefore increasing the possibility of being involved in an accident.

Marijuana Impairment Increases the Risk of Accidents 

Marijuana users are more likely to be involved in crashes as it can adversely affect the skills drivers need to drive safely. It can slow down reaction time as well as impair the judgment of time and distance.

While many pieces of evidence show the association between marijuana and car crashes, it’s still unclear whether marijuana contributes to the risk of car crashes due to several reasons.

An accurate roadside test to determine the drug levels in the body does not exist. Police officers can assess a driver’s ability to drive by administering roadside tests and more extensive tests at the police station if deemed necessary.

Roadside tests can be administered if the driver is suspected to be impaired by alcohol and drugs.These include balance, walking, and eye movements. This test is enough to either place the impaired drivers under arrest or bring them to the station for more extensive tests.

However, this could only detect the illegal blood alcohol level in your body. Marijuana intoxication is a whole new level.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical compound found in marijuana responsible for the high euphoric users feel, may linger long in the brain, but it starts diminishing in the blood quickly.

In the first 30 minutes, the traces it may leave in the bloodstream might be at 74% then 90% by 1.4 hours.

While law enforcement can measure THC, it isn’t always executed immediately. By the time police officers administer a more extensive test at the station, there may not be any traces left.

Also, drivers are not always tested for drug use. Testing for drug use wouldn’t be necessary once an illegal blood alcohol concentration level has been detected since that is enough evidence for a driving-while-impaired charge.

It can also be difficult to determine which substance contributes more to the crash since drivers usually have cannabis and alcohol or multiple drugs in the system.

Related Article: 10 steps to take if your child was injured in a car accident

Mixing Marijuana and Alcohol Heightens the Risks

The greater the impairment, the greater the chance a driver’s abilities will be lacking. They would be more likely to be culpable for a traffic accident.

Substances such as alcohol and drugs can already produce enough damage on their own.

The risks rise dramatically if the user has also consumed alcohol along with drugs. Mixing both substances increases impairment more than each substance can do on its own.

Potential compensatory defensive driving is nullified when a user mixes alcohol and marijuana as alcohol may increase THC levels of cannabis.

The number of alcohol-positive drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for drugs increased by more than 16% from 2006 to 2016.

Contact The Brown Firm

If you have been injured in a vehicular accident caused by a drug-impaired driver, our skilled attorneys from The Brown Firm can be consulted for any legal advice and help you get the compensation you deserve.

Visit our auto accident attorney page or contact us for a Free Consultation to discuss the nature of your case.

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