Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Washington State

Scene-Photos-102-199x300Driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous and potentially deadly. According to the 2018 Washington Traffic Safety Commission survey, “Marijuana Use, Alcohol Use, and Driving in Washington State,” driver impairment due to alcohol and/or drugs is the number one contributing factor in Washington State fatal crashes. Marijuana is second only behind alcohol to appear in drivers involved in accidents, and the number of drivers under the influence of marijuana is increasing each year. Many of these accidents occur on the busy Interstate 5, Interstate 90, and Interstate 405. According to the results of the Washington State Roadside Survey, nearly one in five daytime drivers may be under the influence of marijuana. This statistic is up from less than one in 10 drivers prior to the implementation of marijuana retail sales in Washington State in 2014.

The risk of impaired driving with alcohol in combination with marijuana is greater than the risk of driving under the influence of either substance by itself. From 2008–2016, 44 percent of fatal crashes involving drivers testing positive for substances were drivers that tested positive for both alcohol and one or more other drugs. The most common drug drivers combined with alcohol was marijuana. Deaths involving drivers with multiple substances in their systems have been increasing at a rate of about 15 percent per year since 2012.

Like driving under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal. Initiative 502, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana, included the establishment of a blood per se DUI level of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.

Researchers disagree about the specific risks posed by marijuana use in drivers, but recent surveys have shown that the crash rate nearly doubles for drivers under the influence of solely marijuana, especially within the first two or three hours of using the drug. Marijuana use significantly impairs judgment, slows reaction time, impairs motor coordination, distorts perception, and causes drowsiness. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission found that marijuana use also linked to other risky driving behaviors. One out of three marijuana-only drivers who were involved in accidents were speeding and had a high rate of distraction. Additionally, the study found that persons who drive within three hours of marijuana use are significantly more likely to drink and drive (14.5 %) and not always wear a seatbelt (15.2 %).

In the event that you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a car accident involving a driver under the influence of marijuana, it is important that you understand your legal rights. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Kraft Davies are available to consult with you regarding your entitlement to damages and compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Please call us at (206) 624-8844 or contact us through this website.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/does-marijuana-use-affect-driving

http://wtsc.wa.gov/wp-content/uploads/dlm_uploads/2018/05/Marijuana-and-Alcohol-Involvement-in-Fatal-Crashes-in-WA_FINAL.pdf