While recreational marijuana has been legalized in various U.S regions, it remains an offense to drive while under the influence of the drug. For police attempting to crack down on DUIs involving marijuana, there is one massive problem – there is no easy way of determining beyond doubt that a person has the drug in their system. Although the distinctive smell may be considered somewhat of a giveaway if a driver passes roadside sobriety tests, can they be cited for driving while stoned? As California has not set a legal standard beyond which a person could be considered to be over the allowable limit, police must prove that not only is their marijuana in a driver’s system, but there is too much to be legal.
A driver who has imbibed alcohol can easily be caught out using a breathalyzer, which will provide concrete evidence of the offense, but it is not quite so straightforward in marijuana-related cases. While thousands of California Highway Patrol officers have completed the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement program, where they are trained in a 12-step program designed to identify a lack of sobriety, using a number of tests, the reality appears to be that catching stoned drivers is problematic. Even when using available technology, such as the Drager Drug Test 5000 used by San Diego law enforcement officials, it is only possible to ascertain whether marijuana has been taken recently, not whether the driver’s performance has been impaired.
Statistics relating to driving offenses in California indicate that marijuana-related car accidents have been increasing over the past few years but, again, there is no proof that the driver was actually impaired at the time of the accident. This may seem like semantics, particularly if you or a loved one have been injured by a driver who has been using marijuana, but it is a valid concern when it comes to prosecution. While police do, of course, want to stop impaired drivers from using roads, over-zealous policing where no impairment exists does not help anyone.
Interestingly, a report to Congress on marijuana-impaired driving, compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year, suggests that there is very little correlation between the presence of THC and the cognitive function of motorists.
With the decision on whether a driver’s judgment and reactions have been affected by marijuana use currently lying with judges and juries, marijuana use can be a tough nut to crack when handling a car crash lawsuit.
It is, admittedly, tougher to prove DUI when marijuana, rather than alcohol, is involved, but a car crash attorney in Los Angeles from the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg is never one to shy away from a challenge.
If you, or a loved one, have been injured in an incident you believe was at least partially caused by marijuana use, call us today on 310-997-0904 to schedule your free initial consultation.