Car Accident Lawyers Examine Driving While High (DWH) on Marijuana
The possible link between marijuana use and auto accidents in NYC is important to explore explain New York City car accident lawyers at the F&A injury law firm. A 2016 Gallup poll estimates that one out of every eight adults in the US currently uses marijuana, while 43% have reported trying the drug at least once in their life.
What happens when someone uses marijuana and gets behind the wheel of a car? The following are two critical issues that demand more research and debate:
Does marijuana use lead to impaired driving?
It’s natural to assume that marijuana use will definitely lead to impaired driving. Marijuana can interfere with cognitive and motor skills; one possible result is slower reaction times on the road.
However, it isn’t clear to what extent marijuana increases the risk of accidents. Some research shows that it’s often the combined use of marijuana and alcohol that impact people’s ability to drive safely – not necessarily marijuana by itself.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse points out the dangers of mixing marijuana use with driving and cites research that links marijuana to a heightened risk of vehicular accidents. However, they also point out one study showing no significant effect of marijuana when other factors (such as drivers’ age and alcohol use) are controlled for.
The uncertainty of the evidence shouldn’t encourage people to drive under the effects of marijuana; it may still impair your driving skills. However, in the aftermath of an accident, the mixed research results may make it difficult to determine the contributing factors and whether or not marijuana played a key role.
Is there a clear way of measuring driver impairment?
Another controversy arises over the appropriate field sobriety tests for marijuana use. Police officers rely on established tests for driving impaired by drinking (though even these are sometimes open to dispute). For marijuana, there’s disagreement about whether standard sobriety tests should be admissible in court.
As discussed in a recent article from NPR, police don’t have a clear way of determining whether someone is intoxicated by marijuana to the point of impairment, the way they might with drinking. New tests are forthcoming, but will need to undergo rigorous evaluation.
If you’re involved in a vehicular accident where either you or another driver may have been using marijuana, please contact us. In working with you on your case, we will draw on every possible resource, including the latest research findings.