Understanding how marijuana affects a driver’s ability to safely
control their vehicle is a developing science, with the cultivated substance
only being legalized recently in several states. In an effort to advance
their studies, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has taken a look
at Washington State, where there is troubling news about marijuana use
According to newly released and analyzed data, fatal car accidents in Washington
in the year 2013 involved someone who had used marijuana recently in 8%
of all incidents. After recreational marijuana was legalized in 2014,
that percentage shot up to 17%. The question that must be answered now,
and that require further study, is: “Is marijuana so debilitating
that it is the root cause of these crashes?”
Testing Marijuana Impairment is Difficult
Finding out if someone is intoxicated can be as simple as having them blow
into a breathalyzer and producing a blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
level number. Finding out if someone is impaired by marijuana is a different
sort of procedure altogether. Discovering how much a person’s body
has been influenced by marijuana requires a blood test, which may not
require a warrant due to a new Supreme Court ruling and needs hours to
complete. Levels of THC, which is the chemical compound in marijuana that
is attributed to causing debilitation in the user, can sharply decline
during the waiting period between arrest and actually conducting a blood test.
Additionally, the AAA study learned that THC affects each person differently.
Someone who has strikingly high levels of THC in their body could have
better reaction times and motor control than another person with very
little THC at all. Due to the inconsistency of influence, legislation
to control and penalize marijuana use before driving would likely have
to be blanketed and ban
all use of marijuana before driving a car. Since many people use marijuana
for medical uses, this may not be possible, or else they could be restricted
from traveling outside their homes for necessary errands.
Is Correlation Causation?
There are many groups opposed to the AAA’s findings. The National
Cannabis Industry Association, for one, notes that correlation is not
causation. They argue that the study has only found that more people are
using marijuana in Washington since the drug was partially legalized,
an easily-predicted result. Whether or not THC is impairing drivers, they
state, has yet to be seen with any solid, empirical evidence.
Legal Options After a Car Crash
If it can be shown that marijuana use does in fact cause significant impairment
to drivers, it could be a game-changer for people filing car accident
claims. Liability for a collision placed upon a driver would likely increase
if it was found that they had used marijuana and other cannabis products
shortly before the crash. At
The Law Office of Robert King, we understand how important it is to determine fair liability after a
collision, and we always do what we can to take care of our clients. If
you have been hit by another driver and suspect intoxication or impairment
was the cause,
contact our Rochester personal injury lawyer today to get an understanding of
your legal options and rights as an injured individual.