Dangers and Legalities of Drunk Driving vs. Driving While High

There is an abundance of advertising campaigns warning drivers about the dangers of operating cars while under the influence of alcohol; but what about driving while under the influence of other illicit substances, such as THC from marijuana? Marijuana use doubles a person’s likelihood of being in an accident, when compared to a sober driver. Usage of other drugs presents even more serious risks to other drivers on the road. In Washington state, a recent study found that, after legalization of recreational marijuana use, the number of fatal car crashes involving drivers with quantifiable levels of marijuana in their systems increased by more than 50%.

How to identify a driver under the influence of marijuana

The stereotype of a driver under the influence involves a car drifting out of its lane, failing to use signals, erratically braking, suddenly swerving, or weaving. However, the signs of a driver who is impaired by a drug other than alcohol are somewhat different. Marijuana slows reaction and decision times, in addition to issues with balance and coordination. It can also affect vigilance and perception of time and speed. This can lead to slow weaving and issues making quick decisions.

Combining substances poses even greater risk

Even worse than the use of marijuana alone—or even alcohol alone—Is the combinative result, or the effect on drivers when they use both marijuana and alcohol before getting behind the wheel. There are no safe levels of alcohol or marijuana for driving, and the consequences can be fatal. One common defense of the use of marijuana is that frequent users can compensate for the effects on their driving, based on experience. Adding alcohol to the situation negates this ability.

Legal outcomes

Here in Tennessee, the legal blood alcohol limit is .08, and BAC’s above .20 can result in addition fines or consequences.  For children under the age of 21, any BAC of .02 or above can lead them to be charged with a DUI, have their licenses revoked, and have to perform community service. Additionally, first time DUI offenders of any age have a mandatory minimum jail time of 48 hours. Marijuana use can be tested for via blood or urine screening, and has no minimum level of acceptable use: any marijuana detected will result in a DUI.

If you have been injured in a car crash that was a result of drug or alcohol use on the part of another driver, you may need to seek legal guidance of an experienced Nashville car accident attorney to get the compensation you deserve. At the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we’re gladiators in suits who fight for you.  Please call today at 615-425-2500, or contact us to schedule your consultation in our Nashville, Hendersonville, or Knoxville office.