Is It Legal to Drive Under the Influence of Marijuana?
Did you know there are nearly 200,000 people in Arizona who use medical marijuana legally under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, and some could be legally operating motor vehicles?
Now there is a new state crash form for police to fill out that has a spot to indicate suspected marijuana use, and whether or not the driver is carrying a valid medical marijuana card. Some people may be operating vehicles while abusing drugs and alcohol, but other drivers have a legal medical reason to be under the influence of marijuana. Having this form will also allow agencies to track crashes involving people who are using medical marijuana. This will let officials know how it affects Arizona’s roadways.
While some fear medical marijuana use will increase crashes in Arizona, numbers from other states show this isn’t likely. The American Journal of Public Health in 2017 wrote that, “Three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates from Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.”
However, it remains illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana without a medical card, as it does to operate a vehicle while using alcohol, abusing prescription drugs, or using any illegal substances.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, alcohol-related crashes accounted for more than 30% of all fatal crashes in 2017. Most occurred in urban areas, while 21% occurred in rural areas. As of now, there are no statistics from the 2017 study showing crashes caused by drivers who were under the influence of illegal drugs.
Fortunately, the number of crashes involving drunk drivers was down slightly from the previous four years. In 2013, there were 5,250 alcohol-related crashes compared to 4,854 in 2017. However, 320 people were tragically killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2017, and more than 3,000 people were injured.
Time will tell how marijuana impacts the safety of Arizona roadways. Officials say we should have statistics as early as 2019, based on the information recorded in crash cards.
If you are injured by a driver who is suspected to be under the influence of drugs, it’s important to contact The Husband and Wife Law Team as soon as possible. We can work to gather facts from the sobriety tests police conduct to determine whether the other driver was operating the vehicle legally or not. Then, we will work to get you a settlement that helps pay your medical and other related bills. Call us today!
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer