With California set to legalize recreational marijuana on January 1, 2018,
Gov. Gerry Brown recently signed legislation that prohibits using pot
while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. As
San Diego injury lawyers, we are hopeful that the new law will help curb the expected uptick in
drugged driving crashes
California Drugged Driving Crashes
In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA)
Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers found that approximately
20 percent of drivers tested positive for at least one drug. A California
study found more than one quarter (26.5 percent) of drivers testing positive
for marijuana also tested positive for at least one other drug.
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. For instance, 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.
Mixing alcohol and marijuana can be a particularly dangerous combination.
A recent study found that the concurrent use of alcohol and marijuana
among drivers increases the risk of a fatal crash by more than five times
when compared with non-impaired drivers.
New California Marijuana Law
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.
It is already illegal to drive under the influence (DUI) of marijuana.
Pursuant to California Vehicle Code 23152(e): “It is unlawful for
a person who is under the influence of any drug [including marijuana]
to drive a vehicle.”
“SB-65 Vehicles: Alcohol and Marijuana: Penalties” amends Section 23220 of the California Vehicle Code to make marijuana
use while driving akin to driving with an open container of alcohol. It
specifically makes smoking or ingesting marijuana or any marijuana product
while driving, or while riding as a passenger in, a motor an infraction
with a base fine of $70.
If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a California
drugged driving crash, don’t hesitate to contact
a San Diego injury lawyer
at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.