Drugged Drivers Create a Serious Road Menace

File:A car sits in the 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's parking lot July 15, 2013, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., to represent an accident resulting from drunk driving 130715-F-WQ860-006.jpg

Drugged Drivers Create a Serious Road Menace

I’m Ed Smith, a Car Accident Attorney in Sacramento. At present, more and more Californians are faced with receiving tickets for driving under the influence of marijuana (or other drugs). Yet at the same time, research scientists are still frustrated by the difficulty in isolating a specific number for determining when someone is too “high” to drive. It’s a far more complex situation than what scientists faced back when they first had to determine the most accurate blood-alcohol concentration numbers for drunk driving long ago.

Part of the problem is that when someone is “high” or impaired due to marijuana use, their peak levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in the drug, don’t always correlate with their levels of impairment. Furthermore, people’s blood levels can rise and fall in unpredictable patterns over time. While states like Washington and Colorado have chosen a THC level of five nanograms of THC as their limit, California remains undecided.

How New California Laws Keep Changing to Better Protect Us All

Although Californians voted to make the use of recreational marijuana legal back in November of 2016, the actual sale of the drug – with licenses issued to sellers – doesn’t become legal until early 2018. Different counties are still making their own decisions about when retail sales for recreational use may be begin.

To prepare for this change, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill back in October of 2017 that prohibits everyone from smoking or otherwise using cannabis (marijuana) while either driving or riding in any type of vehicle in California. The penalty for violating this new law is seventy dollars ($70). Of course, it’s currently illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana or have an open container of it in your vehicle. This law is obviously patterned after the open-container legislation covering alcoholic beverages.

California Senator Jerry Hill, who proposed the new legislation penalizing the use of recreational marijuana in a vehicle, has said he based his decision on a 2012 California Office of Traffic Safety study indicating that law enforcement officers were finding more people, out driving at night and on weekends, were testing positive for marijuana than alcohol.

Will Dräger DrugTest 5000 Machines Help Document Your Illegal Drug Use?

As many experts know, law enforcement officers have Dräger DrugTest 5000 machines that help them evaluate how “high” California drivers are when pulled over due to suspicious driving. This mouth-swab test indicates if a driver currently shows signs of recent use of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamine, benzodiazepines or methadone.

However, these machines are not currently being used to measure the actual level of a specific drug in the person’s body – only blood tests can provide that information. California still needs to decide upon a specific blood-level cut-off for the Dräger test to provide more conclusive evidence.

Here is an Example of a Sobriety Test From YouTube:

What Differences Are Sometimes Observed Between Drunk Drivers & Those on Pot?

Unlike alcohol that tends to permeate all parts of a user’s body, the THC in marijuana often gravitates towards parts of the body (like the brain) that have ample amounts of fatty tissue present. This can make measuring the degree of a person’s drug high much more complicated.

Perhaps even more important is the fact that people who have used marijuana quite regularly for long periods of time may remain impaired by each use for far longer time periods than someone who simply got drunk one night and only drinks infrequently.

Until the science of monitoring exactly how marijuana and other drugs impair a person’s functioning improves, everyone’s road safety remains in great jeopardy.

Related Articles by Sacramento Car Accident Attorney, Ed Smith:

Car Accident Attorney in Sacramento

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Car Accident Attorney. Drunk and intoxicated driving can kill. If you or someone you care about has been hurt by an impaired driver, I am here to help. Please contact me right away at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly and compassionate advice. I can also be reached anytime online at AutoAccident.com.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Drunk Driving by A1C Betty Chevalier, USAF. Public Domain
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