While no one is arguing that driving high on marijuana is a good idea, a federal study indicates that it may at least be safer than drinking and driving.
According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), when statistics are adjusted for factors like gender and age, there is little difference between driving stoned and driving sober when it comes to the risk of an accident. However, the NHTSA did point out that the study has limitations and there are obvious risks to driving under the influence of marijuana.
A separate study, the largest of its kind conducted in Virginia Beach, analyzed data over 20 months from 3,000 drivers involved in an accident and 6,000 accident-free drivers. This study found that marijuana users are more likely to be involved in accidents, but the increased risk may be due to the fact that marijuana users are more likely to belong to demographic groups at a higher risk of accidents, particularly young men.
Despite no significant statistical crash risk associated with marijuana use before driving, drinking that results in a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05 or higher increases the risk of an accident seven-fold. Still, there is no easy or reliable way to measure the amount of THC in someone’s system and correlate it to impairment with a blood alcohol concentration.
Alcohol tends to have a very predictable effect on the body whereas psychoactive drugs are chemically complex and the absoption, actions, and elimination can’t be predicted.
California is one of many states to have a “marijuana DUI” law on the books that equates stoned driving to drunk driving, but this can be a serious problem because, unlike alcohol, THC can remain in detectable levels for days or even weeks, long after the pyschoactive effect has worn off. Marijuana can certainly lead to impairment at certain levels, but there is no reliable way for law enforcement to determine if someone is currently impaired by marijuana based on measurable THC levels.
If you have been charged with a marijuana DUI in California, it’s important to seek experienced legal counsel right away to build your defense and seek a reduction or dismissal of the charges. Contact Soliman Law Group for a free consultation with an experienced marijuana defense attorney in Los Angeles to discuss your case.