You are definitely familiar with the legal phrase that the law uses for cases like these. It is a little something referred to as “Driving under the influence.” This can refer to any use of any substance that impairs your ability to drive. So if you were wondering, the answer is yes—you can absolutely be arrested for a DUI, even if weed is legal in your state.
But wait! There’s more to the story.
The question the court must answer in the case of an accident involving the consumption of cannabis is: “did the use of cannabis impair the liable person’s ability to drive?” For about 70 years, the answer was a loud, automatic YES! Plus the person who had consumed weed was more by default liable. But now that is changing.
With laws in flux around the consumption of marijuana—rebranded under this name in the 1930s by a fellow named Harry Anslinger in his campaign to associate the drug with lower-class immigrants—the question becomes an interesting one that states tend to answer very differently.
What To Do When You Get In An Accident While High
According to a Fort Lauderdale accident injury lawyer from SteinLaw, “The first question to ask after a car accident is, is anyone injured? Following that, the next question to address is whose fault it was because that can get quite tricky.”
The main thing you have to prove is that you were not negligent. In most states, this means not breaking the rules of the road. It is actually quite difficult for cops to prove that somebody is under the influence of cannabis.
The best thing to do is not admit you are high. If you do get caught being (legally) high, the problem will probably come on behalf of the Insurance companies rather than the justice system. Insurance companies are notorious for using anything they can to ensure they don’t have to pay—this means they will claim the cannabis user was driving while impaired.
In a state where cannabis is illegal (for the driver) the consequences will come down to whether the cops can prove you were high.
How Can A Cop Even Test If I’m Baked?
Unless the cop sees buds in your teeth from the blunt you just swallowed, he/she will have a hard time being able to arrest you for a DUI. The preliminary tests that police officers are trained to rattle off catch only a 30 percent of stoned drivers. The “follow my finger” approach is legally referred to as the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, by the way.
Motor skill tests derived decades ago from the body’s reaction to alcohol are the first protocol cops go through when they suspect a driver is driving stoned.
Because of the way that THC is metabolized in the body, it is near impossible for cops to use blood or urine tests to know for certain that you are high at a given moment. The basis for drug tests at work is that THC remains in your bloodstream for weeks. CBD is not tested for in most states.
The only surefire way to test for drug use is a new system called the Drager DrugTest 5000 (yes, really). It involves the cop asking the driver for a cheek swab. The cop then places the swab into the machine which scans for the presence of seven drugs.
Is Driving High Dangerous?
The British Medical Journal published a study that says that yes, driving under the influence of weed does raise the risk of being involved in a car accident. People who drive high are twice as likely as sober drivers to get into a car accident. However, it should be mentioned that drivers with a blood alcohol level of .10 percent are seven times more likely to be in a FATAL car accident and drivers with a blood alcohol level of .15 percent are 25 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
In conclusion, driving high is technically illegal, but difficult to test for. It is still not worth the risk considering that you are raising your risk of crashing and making a judgement of liability more likely from the officer on the scene.
A Few Statistics About Drivers Who Smoke Cannabis
- 77 percent of adults who consume cannabis and drive report that it doesn’t affect their driving
- 16 percent believe it improves their driving
- Men and drivers under the age of 25 are more likely to drive within eight hours of consuming