It has been all over the news and as a Fullerton lawyer, we have gotten questions about what marijuana legalization means both in general and specifically for drivers. Many states have now passed bills legalizing marijuana either for medical or recreational use and the majority of those who haven’t, will be hearing bills in the general assembly to address the issue this year. This understandably creates a lot of uncertainty and concern for those who do not use or advocate the use of, marijuana or other drugs. Several of our clients have expressed concern over their own safety on the road as the risk for people driving under the influence is potentially increased.
Here is what you need to know:
There are two sides to this argument with many in the pro-marijuana camp claiming that it does not create any impairment that would affect drivers. Many scientists, however, disagree with that assessment citing studies that have been conducted regarding the impact of marijuana, in general. The University of Washington, for example, published information regarding some studies that were conducted both in the lab and in simulations. Given the potential dangerous nature of giving people marijuana and putting them on the road, studies have been confined to simulations for safety sake. Citing the results of these studies, the UW said that marijuana clearly had a negative impact on a person’s ability to react quickly, make decisions and have good hand-eye coordination. It stands to reason that we can apply the known impacts of using marijuana to the skills necessary for driving and conclude that driving under the influence of marijuana is simply not safe.
Why isn’t it safe?
As a Fullerton lawyer, I speak with a lot of people after they have been injured in a car accident. It is common to hear that "I didn’t see the other car in time" or "I couldn’t stop or swerve in time to get out of the way". Driving is often about timing. If you can see and react quickly, you can often prevent or avoid an accident. In order to do so the mind has to be sharp and able to process information in split seconds. A delay of any length can increase the likelihood of an accident taking place. This is similar to why people shouldn’t drink and drive. Consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel can be dangerous for the same delay in reaction times and hindered observation skills.
If you are concerned that someone driving near you is intoxicated, get behind them and put enough distance in between you, so that you can stop or slow down if they start to behave erratically. You can also call the State Patrol to report them.
Simultaneously, as a Fullerton lawyer, I do represent those that have gotten behind the wheel while intoxicated. It is important to note that even if marijuana is legal for medical use or you have a recreation use card from a state like Colorado or Washington, this does not mean you can drive after using it. If you cause an accident and the officer finds that you were using drugs, you could find yourself in jail and in need of an attorney. If so, give us a call.