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 trend continues.
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 866-675-4427 today.