What are the Dangers of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?

Jul 10 12:44 2022 Tyler Fleck Print This Article

This article covers the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs. It discusses recent studies that cover important topics related to impaired driving and accidents plus how an attorney for an accident can help you.

What are the Dangers of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs?

Impaired drivers cause many traffic accidents. The drunk driver is the one in the public’s imagination,Guest Posting but the driver whose vehicle hits you could be under the influence of any number of things, including marijuana.

Kentucky law makes it illegal to drive while impaired, no matter the source. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states:


·      16% of vehicle accidents involve drivers intoxicated by something other than alcohol

·      13% of drivers on the road at night, on the weekends have marijuana in their system

·      Marijuana users are about 25% more likely to be involved in a vehicle accident than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use

In the last ten years, vehicle crashes involving drivers impacted by cannabis have increased, as has pot’s recreational use, according to the New York Times. A recent study of US public safety data shows the share of vehicle accident fatalities involving marijuana went from 9% to about 22% percent from 2000 to 2018. During this time, the percentage of deaths involving alcohol stayed about the same.

How Does Marijuana Affect Driving?

Marijuana affects the brain differently than alcohol. You may feel high within minutes if you smoke it, which should wear off in three to four hours. If you eat something with marijuana in it, it’ll take longer to feel high because it’s metabolized through your digestive system and liver, not your lungs.

How long the feeling lasts is unpredictable. Someone eating an edible may not feel much in the short term, think they won’t get high, then start driving and become impaired while behind the wheel.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), marijuana’s intoxicating substance, impairs many driving behaviors, including the ability to change lanes, response times, and judgment. It can cause a panic attack and alters the perception of time and speed.


What Evidence Shows Stoned Drivers are Dangerous?

In a study of 191 regular marijuana users (people who used it 16 times a month on average), researchers asked participants to smoke THC cigarettes or placebos until they got as high as they wanted in a 10-minute period, taking a minimum of four puffs. It showed that as time passes after smoking pot, drivers thought they were safer to drive though they were not.

A half-hour later and throughout the day, participants went through driving simulations. Thirty minutes after smoking, they went through a simulation, and just under half of the participants stated they felt safe to drive. After 90 minutes, that went up to nearly 70% percent, even though they performed just as poorly.

Who’s More Dangerous? A Stoned or Drunk Driver?

One  2017 study involving more than 4,000 drivers from a French police database found that a driver under the influence of alcohol is about 17.8 times more likely to cause a fatal car crash than one who’s sober.

Drivers classified by police as under the influence of marijuana were 1.65 times more likely to cause deadly accidents. A study involving US roadside safety reports from 2007 estimated drivers using marijuana were 1.83 times more likely than sober drivers to be involved in a fatal crash.

How Useful are Blood Tests to Determine if the Driver Was Impaired?

These studies often rely on drug tests performed after car crashes, which have severe limitations. Results can only show the person used marijuana in the past. They can’t show whether using it impaired their driving, let alone when, so these studies may make stoned driving more deadly than it is.

Since cannabis can remain in fatty tissues for up to 28 days, a positive drug test doesn’t necessarily mean the driver was high when they drove. Not only are tests affected by time, there’s no generally accepted level of marijuana in your system that shows you’re intoxicated.

Given these testing limitations, whether the driver is facing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for accident injuries, there should be evidence beyond the test result to establish the person was impaired while driving.

That’s usually witness testimony or video of how the person drove before the accident and how they appeared and acted afterward. Driver admissions they were intoxicated can also be used.

Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident in Kentucky and Need an Attorney?

Were you injured in a vehicle accident by a driver impaired by marijuana? Call The Fleck Firm to schedule a free consultation at (270) 446-7000. We’ll talk about the accident, your injuries, the law, and your best options to proceed. Insurance companies have lawyers. You should have one too.

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Tyler Fleck
Tyler Fleck

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