It has long been predicted that marijuana usage could impair a driver’s
abilities to control their vehicle safely. A recent AAA Foundation for
Traffic Safety study looked into the concerns in more detail, focusing on
fatal car accident statistics in Washington, where the drug was legalized for recreational
use in 2013. According to the data they analyzed, 8% of fatal car crashes
in Washington in 2013 were linked to marijuana use; in 2014, that number
spiked to 17%.
The Foundation for Traffic Safety fears that the sudden increase in traffic
fatalities linked to drug use could indicate that marijuana is just as
dangerous in a driver’s system as alcohol. The results for 2015
will likely not be available until December or later to see if the increasing
Conflicting Information Regarding THC in Bloodstreams
Legislators will have a difficult time finding a balance between what should
and should not be considered legal “stoned” driving. Laboratory
research indicates that THC, the chemical compound in marijuana that affects
the mind, will impact each user uniquely. An amount of THC in one person
may have no negative effect whereas a different person using the same
amount could be unfit to drive.
THC levels are also difficult to record through testing, as breathalyzers
cannot detect the compound. Any tests to determine THC in a subject’s
body would likely need to be from blood tests, creating two more legal
hurdles. Firstly, THC levels can rapidly decline depending on a person’s
metabolism, meaning by the time the test is conducted, it could be nonexistent
in their system. Secondly, blood tests of any kind after a DUI arrest
require a warrant due to a recent Supreme Court ruling, something most
officers may not have the time to obtain after pulling someone over.
Will Impaired Driving Laws Change?
Currently, it is illegal to drive while impaired by any drug in any amount.
Many have pointed out that people who need medical marijuana for their
health issues have essentially lost their driving privileges so long as
they use their medication. The daunting task of determining how much THC
constitutes an amount that is unsafe for driving is now on the desk of
researchers and legislators, who may need to adjust laws or fight to keep
the blanket ban in place. What is clear after the AAA study, however,
is that marijuana in certain dosages must have some sort of negative impact
on safe driving.
For more information about marijuana-related car accidents, you can view a
CNN Money article
here. For legal advocacy after being struck by a “stoned” driver
in Florida, you can
contact our Stuart car accident attorneys from Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates,
PLLC. We offer
free initial consultations so call