Nationwide, the legalization of marijuana is gaining popularity. Colorado and Washington states have already legalized some forms of sale and possession for personal use. While advocates of legalization see the trend spreading to other states, law enforcement agencies and officers associate recreational use of pot with “driving” high. As the majority of Americans support legalization, Alabama legislators and public safety advocates are warning of the potential of “stoned” drivers.
Despite this concern, health officials and law enforcement agencies do not have the data to support fear mongering. In the state of Alabama, drivers can be charged for driving under the influence; however, proving that a driver has been smoking weed or how much to be incapacitated is a challenge. Our Birmingham drunk driving attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of our clients arrested and charged with DUI. Cases involving prescription drug use or marijuana should be reviewed by an experienced advocate who can help determine whether charges are warranted or supported by law.
According to an Alabama Public Radio report, most drivers do not see the use of pot as a significant inhibitor of motor skills. Comparatively, pot smoking and getting behind the wheel is no comparison to drinking and driving. Still, safety advocates are concerned that drivers will ignore the potential dangers of “driving high.” Some urge laws and penalties just as strong for pot smokers are they are for drunk drivers.
While there are statistics to back up the dangers of drinking and driving, the evidence supporting claims that pot smoking causes accidents are less clear. Research clearly shows that alcohol can impair a driver’s ability; alcohol-related crashes cause approximately 10,000 deaths per year. There are no similar statistics linking the dangers of smoking pot with accident rates, partially because it is more difficult to test levels of THC in a driver.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has performed research, testing the effect of marijuana use on a driver’s response times and ability. According to some analysts, individuals who smoke pot have a harder time staying in their lane, multi-tasking, or concentrating while on long drives. Still, there is no conclusive evidence that deviations are more likely to cause accidents. Studies have turned up different results and there seems to be no consensus on how risky it actually is to drive after smoking pot.
Even though the law allows a driver to be charged for driving under the influence of marijuana, it is difficult for police officers to test the legal limit. In cases involving alcohol, police can give a driver a breathalyzer exam. Testing levels of THC in a pot-smoker is much more complicated. Research has also shown that THC can remain in the blood stream long after a person is high. This could produce inaccurate results when testing whether a person was actually “under the influence.” A blood test also requires that an officer take a driver to the hospital and even after a test, the results may not be any indication of impairment.