Now that California has legalized marijuana, drugged driving accidents
are expected to rise. When impairment causes a serious motor vehicle crash,
it can play an important role in a resulting personal injury lawsuit.
California’s Marijuana Laws
In 2014, 38 percent of all drivers who were killed in California motor
vehicle crashes tested positive for legal and/or illegal drugs. The number
of drugged driving crashes has been increasing every year and is projected
to climb in the wake of the passage of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.
The new law, commonly referred to as Proposition 64, makes it legal for
individuals 21 and older to use and grow marijuana for personal use. While
marijuana consumption is allowed in private homes, smoking remains illegal
while driving a vehicle.
Marijuana Affects Safe Driving
As highlighted in a
recent public service announcement by the California Office of Traffic Safety, marijuana can impair drivers. Just like alcohol, drugs can slow your
reaction time and decision-making ability. Studies confirm that driving
while under the influence of marijuana can interfere with attentiveness,
as well as the perception of time and speed.
In addition, the higher the levels of THC, the greater the risks drivers
take while behind the wheel. Studies show that drivers with large amounts
of THC in their blood tend to make erratic lane changes, react slower
to traffic lights and unexpected obstacles, and are less aware of their speed.
Impact of Drugged Driving on Personal Injury Suits
To prevail in a personal injury case, the injured victim must be able to
show that the other driver’s negligent operation of the vehicle
was the direct and proximate cause of the crash. In the case of drugged driving,
being impaired by marijuana can be used to prove negligence.
If the driver is cited for driving under the influence or marijuana is
found in the vehicle, this evidence can be particularly persuasive when
negotiating your claim with the insurance company. The police report will
also cite any other factors that the police believe contributed to the
crash, such as speeding, following too closely, or failure to yield.
If you suspect drugged driving may have contributed to a San Diego crash,
it is important to alert law enforcement at the scene. For instance, if
you smell marijuana on the driver’s breath, spot drug paraphernalia
in the car, or see the driver use eye drops, this is information that
the police need to know. In many cases, it may trigger a field sobriety
test and a drugged driving arrest.
If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a California
motor vehicle crash, don’t hesitate to contact
a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free