It’s been less than a week since marijuana was legalized across California, but the California Highway Patrol officers are already on high alert to prevent car accidents involving weed-impaired motorists.
On New Year’s Eve, the CHP issued a statement to California residents warning about an increased risk of car accidents in Los Angeles and elsewhere across the state now that people can legally get their hands on cannabis after marijuana legalization on Jan. 1, 2018.
The CHP warning about marijuana impairment accidents came just a few days after one of its officers died in a car crash involving a marijuana-impaired driver. Unfortunately, such accidents could become widespread in Los Angeles and the rest of California now that people have access to cannabis.
Suspected weed-impaired driver kills a CHP patrol officer
The horrible car accident caused by marijuana- and an alcohol-impaired driver took place on New Year’s Eve at an Interstate Highway in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Andrew Camilleri, a father of three children, was sitting in a CHP patrol vehicle that was parked on the side of Interstate 880 in Hayward on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, when a suspected drunk and drugged driver slammed his car into the patrol SUV.
The high-speed collision caused life-threatening injuries to the CHP officer who was sitting in the right front seat. Camilleri died at the hospital.
His CHP partner Jonathan Velasquez, who was sitting in the driver’s seat, also got injured in the car collision but was later released from the hospital.
Camilleri and Velasquez, both of whom were wearing seatbelts at the time of the car crash, were sitting in their patrol vehicle to monitor traffic using a radar gun to detect traffic violations on Christmas Eve.
Our Los Angeles motor vehicle accident attorneys at Law Offices of Howard Kornberg explain that there is a sharp increase in DUI accidents involving drunk and marijuana-impaired drivers during the holidays.
Fact: over 140 DUI arrests occur across the U.S. each day in the period from mid-December to early January.
Marijuana legalization + cars = more car accidents
A 22-year-old driver, whose name wasn’t disclosed to the media, is suspected of smoking weed and consuming alcohol before the fatal car accident. His red Cadillac rammed into the SUV patrol vehicle from behind at high speed at around 11:30 pm on Christmas Eve.
The use of marijuana was still illegal at the time of the collision that killed the CHP officer. The CHP is still investigating the collision, as the suspected marijuana-impaired driver remains in serious condition at the hospital.
The Cadillac driver is suspected of heading home from a party before the fatal car crash. The CHP said there is enough evidence to book the driver with “some very serious felony charges” after his release from the hospital.
At a news conference the following day, CHP officials expressed their anger at the number of fatalities caused by motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana across California.
Does smoking marijuana lead to more car accidents?
The number of car accidents in the U.S. increases every year, with 2016 becoming the most devastating year in terms of motor vehicle deaths. That year saw the most two-year escalation in car accident fatalities in over 50 years.
While factors and causes of car accidents vary from one case to another, weed impaired and drunk driving has been at the top of the list of causes of motor vehicle fatalities in the U.S.
With the legalization of recreational marijuana across California, which took effect on January 1, 2018, the number of motor vehicle deaths could skyrocket given that Americans still don’t realize that the consequences of smoking marijuana and driving can be deadly.
According to a recent survey, only 40% of Americans believe that smoking cannabis and driving can contribute to more car accidents in the U.S.
Multiple studies have shown dramatic consequences of driving under the influence of weed. In particular, operating a vehicle after use of marijuana has been shown to slow down reaction time, decrease focus and coordination as well as the impair judgment of time and distance.
How to deal with a car accident involving marijuana?
All these factors contribute to motor vehicle accidents in Los Angeles and across California. And now that recreational marijuana has been legalized in the state, local residents could see a sharp increase in the number of weed-impaired drivers on the streets.
If you’ve been a victim of a motor vehicle accident involving a marijuana-impaired motorist, consult the best motor vehicle accident lawyers at Law Offices of Howard Kornberg to find out the most optimal course of action to seek compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses.