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Fatal Accidents Double After Legalization of Marijuana

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A new study released by AAA shows that in states where marijuana is legalized fatal accidents doubled.  This scary and troubling study can have big impacts on both people who are involved in incidents with marijuana impaired drivers as well as those charged with consuming marijuana and driving.  As the AAA article notes it is very difficult to prove if someone’s driving is impaired by marijuana.  First, if someone is tested for their THC level a blood test must be performed.  This usually requires that the officer obtain a warrant, take the person to the hospital, and then have the blood drawn.  This can take many hours to complete and the person’s THC level could have dropped significantly during this time.  Second, there are no comprehensive studies demonstrating how a particular level of THC can affect someone’s driving and/or that a THC level and impairment can be determined to affect everyone similarly.  Third, someone who consumes marijuana regularly could have a constant THC level that is above the legal limit, but they may not be impaired the same as someone who rarely consumes marijuana.

What does all of this mean?  From a criminal defendant standpoint it means that merely driving poorly or getting into an accident could land you with a charge for DUI when your driving wasn’t affected by marijuana even though your blood level says otherwise.  From a victim’s standpoint, it may be difficult to prove that the person who hit you was impaired by marijuana.  This can be important in determining liability if there is a dispute on the facts of the collision.

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