The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has provided the state of Colorado a $400,000 grant to educate the public on the dangers of smoking marijuana and driving. It hopes to reduce the number of drivers who get behind the wheel impaired.
Efforts Being Made to Decrease Marijuana-Impaired Drivers
There are two main objectives with the grant. One aims to train law enforcement to detect marijuana-impaired drivers. Currently, there are only 185 drug recognition experts trained throughout law enforcement agencies in Colorado. The goal is to train 35 additional officers. However, some believe that’s not nearly enough.
A second objective is raising awareness on the dangers of driving while high. A media push will start in March which will include giving pot shops posters that warn about the risks of driving while high.
Addressing the Issue of Driving Under the Influence of Pot
In 2012, there were 24,742 cases involving impairment behind the wheel. Marijuana accounted for more than 1,000 of these DUIs. (Recreational marijuana use did not become legal until December 2012 after the governor ratified the law.) Many are concerned this could become a growing problem as more recreational marijuana shops open.
Current DUI laws consider a driver to be impaired by marijuana if he/she has at least five nanograms of active delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter of blood while operating a motor vehicle. But because of the differences in the way THC is absorbed in the bloodstream, it’s not an exact science in determining how much is too much.
It’s also believed that some people, such as those who use marijuana for medicinal purposes, will build up a tolerance to THC. Yet another concern is the length of time it takes before the effects are felt as this can also be related to tolerance.
Even then, someone who believes he or she feels sober enough to operate a vehicle fine might not have the necessary coordination, judgment and reaction time. Lawmakers and enforcement must also overcome a troublesome popular opinion that operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana isn’t risky.
When High Driving Causes Injury or Death in an Accident
Recently, a 23-year-old man who was high on marijuana crashed into two state trooper vehicles that were pulled over to the side of the road. The cars were in the left-hand lane of an exit ramp. Luckily they were not in their vehicles at the time of the accident.
Drivers hitting troopers that have pulled off the sides of roads is an especially contentious crime because of the needless deaths officers suffer while performing their jobs. This is just one example of how marijuana use can affect someone’s driving ability.
If you have been injured or suffered the loss of a loved one because of impaired driving, it’s important to seek legal counsel immediately. An attorney can help obtain results of any marijuana testing, which can help establish fault, as well as any other evidence relevant to the case.
Call D.J. Banovitz to set up a legal consultation in the Denver area: 303-300-5060, or fill out our contact form.