Will Recreational Marijuana Increase California Traffic Accidents?

Posted on Sunday, December 25th, 2016 at 9:08 pm    

In November, Californians passed Proposition 64 that legalized marijuana for recreational use. California joins Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska in legalizing recreational marijuana. In addition to California, residents of three other states (Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine) also passed measures in November legalizing the use of recreational marijuana within their states.

Under the new law, an adult 21 years of age or older can possess up to one ounce of flowers or eight grams of concentrate for personal use. In addition, an adult 21 years of age or older can grow up to six plants in their home. Unfortunately for motorists, the use of recreational marijuana may lead to a higher risk of traffic accidents according to a report earlier this year.

Traffic Crashes Double in States That Legalize Marijuana

A report by AAA Foundation Research, “fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington after the state legalized the drug.” According to the report, some drivers may be wrongfully convicted of impaired driving while unsafe drivers remain on the road without being punished. Based on the data for fatal crashes and drug tests in Washington after marijuana was legalized in 2012, researchers discovered two significant facts:

  • Drivers who recently used marijuana and then were involved in fatal accidents more than doubled between 2013 to 2017


  • One in six drivers involved in fatal accidents during 2014 had recently used marijuana.

Can We Enforce Impaired Driving for Marijuana?

The President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Peter Kissinger, said that the increase in fatal accidents involving drivers who used marijuana prior to the accident is alarming. Unfortunately, there seem to be several significant problems associated with trying to enforce impaired driving laws related to marijuana use.

AAA’s President and CEO, Marshall Doney, acknowledges there is a desire to create legal limits for marijuana use, but the current approach is “flawed and not supported by scientific science.” He goes on to say that “Marijuana can affect driver safety by impairing vehicle control and judgment. States need consistent, strong, and fair enforcement measures to ensure that the increased use of marijuana does not impact road safety.”

Accidents Involving Marijuana-Impaired Drivers

If you are injured in a traffic accident caused by a marijuana-impaired driver, you are entitled to seek compensation for your damages, injuries, and losses just like you are if injured by a drunk driver. However, you must prove that the driver caused the accident and you suffered injuries as a result of the accident. Just as with a drunk driver, proving the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol is not sufficient to prove liability for a personal injury claim. You must prove the driver CAUSED the collision to recover compensation.

As the number of individuals using legal marijuana in California increases, the number of marijuana-impaired accidents may increase, especially if we trust the research already conducted in states that legalized marijuana several years ago. Our Sacramento car accident attorneys continue to monitor the data and laws regarding marijuana-impaired driving accidents in California.

Call A Sacramento Car Accident Attorney for Help

If a drug impaired driver injures you, we want to help. Contact our office to schedule a free legal consultation with a Sacramento car accident attorney. Call the Tiemann Law Firm at (916) 999-9000 or chat with a representative on our website.


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