Legalized Marijuana Linked to Increased Risk of Fatal Car Accidents
AAA study shows fatal car accidents in Washington state doubled after marijuana was legalized
Supporters of legalized marijuana often tout the fact that the drug is no more dangerous than alcohol. Of course, the trouble with this argument is that alcohol can actually be quite dangerous—especially when it comes to drunk driving accidents.
So should we be worried about marijuana-impaired driving accidents?
According to a recent AAA study, the answer is yes.
The study, titled “Prevalence of Marijuana Involvement in Fatal Crashes: Washington, 2010-2014” and released on May 10, 2016, showed that fatal car accidents involving drivers who had recently used marijuana doubled after the state legalized marijuana in December 2012.
Specifically, researchers found that recent marijuana users were involved in 8 percent of crashes in 2013 and then 17 percent of crashes in 2014. In 2014, one in six drivers involved in fatal crashes had recently used marijuana.
Marijuana Impaired Driving Enforcement More Challenging than Drunk Driving Enforcement
With alcohol, there is a clear legal limit to follow when judging if an individual is too intoxicated to drive: 0.08 BAC. But as AAA researchers studied lab results from individuals arrested for impaired driving, they found that there is really no equivalent for BAC when judging marijuana-impaired drivers. Different individuals can display different levels of impairment with the same amount of THC from marijuana in their blood.
Another challenge is that testing for marijuana impairment requires a blood test. This can take up to two hours to administer since it is necessary to obtain a warrant and transport the driver to a facility for testing. By the time blood is drawn, the THC levels in the blood will have declined significantly.
Since there is no scientific evidence that a particular THC level in the blood reliably indicates impairment, and testing is likely to be inaccurate anyway, proving drivers are impaired is more likely to depend upon the arresting officer’s testimony regarding signs of impairment that they observed.
Have You Been Injured by a Marijuana-Impaired Driver?
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident caused by a marijuana-impaired driver—or if you have lost a loved one in such an accident—you deserve compensation. Contact the Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 for help building your case. The initial consultation is always free, and if your case has merit we will represent you with no payment due until we win your case.