How Legalized Marijuana and Car Accident Rates are Related?

Are you aware that 26 states have recently legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use? That is more than half the states in the country. It is wonderful news for people who suffer from chronic illnesses who rely on medication such as cannabis to seek comfort in their daily lives. On the other hand, the recreational use of marijuana can lead to consequences.

When it comes to driving and smoking marijuana, there is a definite link between pot and car accidents.

In the states that have recently legalized marijuana, there have been studies showing the rise in car wrecks by smoking weed. According to Colorado insurance research groups, such as the Highway Loss Data Institue, weed and driving are bad.

Claims involving these types of car collisions have been on the rise since the legalization of marijuana.

The Highway Loss Data Institue did its first study since the legalization of weed to find out if weed and auto accident rates are linked. Did you know that these relate? There is a connection between legalized marijuana and car accident rates, and I will discuss them in this post.

Driving Recklessly While Under the Influence of Legal Weed

In the state of Colorado, these post-legalization days are being monitored by chief medical officers today. Driving under the influence of alcohol continues to be a topic that is important to talk about for its concerning nature, but we should not ignore the impact of smoking weed and operating a vehicle.

There are more and more pot-related stories that involve drivers getting pulled over for reckless driving. In one example where pot led to an arrest involving marijuana, a man was pulled over a few separate times for having a THC level of more than 54 nanograms over the legal limit for marijuana.

He was arrested for driving under the influence and was showing obvious signs of intoxication. But it’s not just a national story. Just this week, WBRZ ran a story about a man admitting to smoking marijuana while driving who was charged with 3rd offense DWI.  According to Louisiana State Police, he was pulled over on LA 42 (Burbank Drive) near Lee Drive after a trooper clocked him going 91 MPH in a 55 MPH zone.

When the trooper spoke to the man, he noticed his eyes were bloodshot and glassy. He was also unable to stand straight without swaying, arrest records say. Not surprisingly, he performed poorly on a field sobriety test and advised the trooper that he had been smoking marijuana in his vehicle while driving.

According to data collected by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, there have been close to 500 fatal crashes involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana. In fact, accidents involving alcohol happen to be decreasing while accidents involving marijuana are on the rise.

Increased Chances

In fact, drivers under the influence of marijuana are twice as likely to find themselves in a car accident in comparison to those who are not.

Since the legalization of marijuana in over 26 states, there have been more research studies done showing driving while high. The likelihood that a driver is both consuming alcohol and smoking weed is also unfortunately on the rise in these legalized states. Not every state has an issue with weed, but some do.

This significant data on marijuana and its effects on one’s driving abilities is concerning. The statistics on it indicates just how serious legal weed has become for all drivers on the road. Not only is legal weed at fault for more crashes than alcohol, but it is causing high numbers of daytime accidents to happen.

Who knew that so many daytime accidents could be ones that involve the ingestion or smoking of legal weed?

Being high impairs one’s judgment, and when you add-in operating a moving vehicle, collisions are more likely to happen.

The Impact of Weed and Psychomotor Function Loss

Studies have also shown that intoxication with cannabis leads to failed psychomotor function. It is a concern that needs to be monitored and tested in all of the states that have legal weed. In yet another study involving psychomotor function and cannabis smokers, data shows how observable impairment continued to be present even after 3 weeks of no weed.

This study was put into action with nineteen chronic smokers as participants. The testing of critical tracking performance was important.

It was able to see how the participants were able to control their psychomotor function with or without the use of legal weed. The study concluded that people who were chronic smokers did poorly on the test. As assumed, the cannabis negatively affected their performance.

The study also discussed how long-term effects of weed can cause smokers to lose psychomotor function over time. It’s more and more obvious that continuing to be a daily smoker will lead to worsening memory impairments as you age. These long-term neurophysiological impairments can affect the central nervous system and cause other problems within the body that are linked to weed.

In this study, the participants who were daily cannabis smokers also showed signs of reacting poorly to the response to the errors that were on the test. The final results of the research study prove how marijuana can reduce reaction times and tracking performance. The study shows how smoking weed can lead to life long issues down the road.

Legal Weed and Teens

Another issue that needs to be talked about when discussing weed and driving is the impact it has on teens. There are many risks to be considered in terms of kids and pot. In Colorado, more young children are being rushed to the hospital for ingesting pot.

The spike in hospital visits will be another side effect that medical officers need to keep an eye out for. Young male teens are the number one user of marijuana according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. More teens are driving stoned because of its legalization in so many states.

Some teens explain how driving while high “is the scariest thing” because their vision goes in and out. Even when teens believe they are in control of their bodies, drugs will take over many motor functions that hinder prevent operating a car. With more teen car accidents happening every day because of various reasons such as texting, being high also needs stopping.

It’s The Law

Parents need to be on top of things when talking about drinking and taking drugs to prevent any unnecessary car accidents from taking place in the country. Especially in 2017, parents need to have talks with their kids.

In Louisiana, weed is not yet legal, so the repercussions are still in place. Teens need to have a better understanding of how dangerous it is for them to be driving under the influence of drugs. It’s bad for others around them on the road, too.

The law is not meant to be broken, especially at such a young age. Schools should also step up to teach teens about the right ways to drive sober or get pulled over. There needs to be a proper way to show teens the negative consequences that can impact their future careers if they are pulled over for a DUI.

Colleges are not interested in students who are messing around with drugs, that is for sure.

How Can Police Officers Detect High Levels of Marijuana in a Driver’s Body?

The problem that currently exists with driving while under the influence of marijuana is just how to detect it. Right now it’s easy to detect when someone is under the influence of alcohol with driving patterns and by using a breathalyzer to test for BAC levels.

However, with weed, there is an issue of how to go about testing for high levels of marijuana while someone is driving. Marijuana can not be tested by using a breathalyzer, so there needs to be a better way to determine if someone is under the influence.

Police officers can only conduct a blood test to find this information out. The process becomes difficult to prove if and when a person was being affected by the drugs. Once the officer takes someone to a station they can begin the blood test to check for certain nanograms of marijuana to be present in his or her system.

There is a standard at the moment that says if a person has legal weed in their system that is over the limit of 5 nanograms of THC, then they are intoxicated. This rule is currently in effect in the states that have legalized marijuana.


A study conducted by Ryan Gregory Vandrey, Ph.D. focused on edibles that contain high amounts of marijuana. He wanted to know whether or not a person feels impaired if he or she ingests them and drives. Dr.Vandrey discovered some alarming facts that show how smoking can affect a person’s body.

In his study, people who consumed the brownies that had traces of marijuana in them showed signs of poor alertness and low physical movement.

Dr. Vandrey also strongly believes that we should adopt a zero tolerance for anyone attempting to drive while under the influence of these drugs. The current limit is 5 nanograms as the standard level for marijuana in one’s system.

More Research Studies Will Show that Evidence that Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Leads to More Accidents

Yes, legal weed and driving are controversial and highly debated topics since its legalization a few years ago in many states. The National Institue on Drug Abuse has done its own studies on the impact of marijuana while driving for even more helpful information. They found that being under the influence of marijuana is more common than we think.

A study that they performed indicated that when a person who had marijuana in their system drove a car, there were signs of weaving in and out of the lane.

The investigators with the National Institue on Drug Abuse also discovered the impact of alcohol and drugs has on a person’s body. This information coincides with the results of other studies that were discussed in this post. The ingestion of marijuana was able to increase the levels of THC to be absorbed quicker in the body when used with alcohol present in the body.

When it boils down to it, having both alcohol and marijuana in your system is a bad choice if you decide to drive a car.

The ingredients that can be found in weed are bad. They are responsible for creating detrimental accidents when combined with alcohol consumption.

There will be more studies conducted on these types of accidents because the legalization of marijuana is such a hot topic nowadays. With more states seeking to legalize marijuana, it’s important to consider their harmful side effects for drivers on the road.

Do your own research to find studies on the effects of marijuana.

Inform your friends and family on the repercussions of driving while under the influence. The people who you care the most about need to be educated on how both drinking and driving and being high and driving can impact their lives.

The Final Take Away

If you find yourself involved in an accident with someone who you believe is at fault, please give Stephen Babcock a call. If you believe the driver was under the influence of weed, let us help you find the answers. Do not let legal weed stop you from winning your accident case.

If you have never been in an accident before, that’s great news. However, the chances of you getting into one in your lifetime are likely. Luckily for you, our website is full of helpful tips to keep you up to date on the latest legal information about car accident prevention. At Babcock Partners, we care about your safety on the road.

Check out our long list of 10 things you should do after an accident for more information. Knowledge is power and it’s never a bad idea to be over prepared. In these scary situations that many people will find themselves in, you need to find the right help. Know what to do if you find yourself in car trouble over the course of your lifetime.

Accidents do indeed happen, but you don’t have to fight the battle alone. Make sure that you hire the best and highly trusted Baton Rouge lawyers. Our lawyers know how to handle your personal injury case in a professional manner. We want to fulfill our promise of helping you get a fair settlement or fair trial verdict if you recently endured an accident.

If you’ve been injured, Stephen Babcock of Babcock Partners is standing by to help you.

Your case — and your future will be our top priority.  When we meet with you, we will review your case with you for free and after you hire us you will have Stephen’s 100% Client Satisfaction Guarantee.

Contact us today.

Get Even! Call Stephen!

– Stephen Babcock