Denver, CO- The prevailing criticism over broader marijuana legalization is that the more widely available pot is, drugged drivers will run rampant in the streets, and the number of deadly traffic accidents will increase dramatically. While there are some studies showing an increase high drivers across the country, a new study from Colorado shows marijuana legalization has not caused a plague of deadly accidents to descend on the state, instead, fatal traffic accidents have actually decreased.
The Washington Post’s Radley Balko broke down the latest fatal traffic accident data from the Colorado Department and found that fatal accidents have actually declined since the beginning of the year when recreational marijuana sales began in the state. Not only have fatal accidents decreased, but have reached lows not seen since 2000. You can check out Balko’s breakdown of the date here.
Not only have fatal traffic accidents decreased in Colorado, but so have overall crime statistics. Hopefully, the Colorado DOT data can clear up some of the confusion and misleading rhetoric surrounding marijuana legalization.
This new data flies in the face of anti-pot activists who says marijuana legalization will cause more intoxicated driving accidents. They often site a study form February of this year which showed that drivers involved in fatal traffic accidents increasingly test positive from drug use.
That study found drug use among drivers in fatal accidents rose from 16.6 percent in 1999 to 28.3 percent in 2010. Marijuana was the most commonly detected drug with commonly detected drug used by drivers was marijuana, which increased from 4.2 percent in 1999 to 12.2 percent in 2010.
While its true more drivers may have more marijuana in their system at the time of a traffic accident, the study doesn’t say how many of those drivers were drunk as well. It’s more likely that alcohol intoxication was the primary cause of a fatal accident rather than stoned driving. Drunken drivers tend to speed and take other risks a sober person wouldn’t.
Stoned drivers, in contrast, tend to driver slower and compensate for their impairment, according to several former studies. NORML has a breakdown of several stoned driving studies here.
Even though the results surrounding the danger of stone driving are mixed, driving under the influence of marijuana is every bit as illegal as drunken driving. If you are facing these charges, you need a DUI attorney on your defense team.
In Colorado and Washington, having 5 nano Grams of THC in your system is grounds to charge you with driving under the influence. Measuring marijuana intoxication is nearly impossible; chronic users or medical marijuana patients can test positive for THC days sometimes weeks after they have smoked. A chronic or casual marijuana user can easily be over the legal limit without actually being intoxicated. Actually determining if a driver is high is nearly impossible, since no tests can determine intoxication, these test can tell a person has smoke at one point over the past few days or weeks.
This means many people will be charged with an unjust DUI charge, but that doesn’t mean they face conviction. When they enlist a DUI attorney to work on their defense, they have a great chance of avoiding conviction.