Marijuana is becoming much more acceptable in our society. Although it is still illegal under federal law, many states have taken steps to decriminalize or even legalize the drug. Regardless of one’s position on this matter, one fact is true: marijuana use can affect an individual’s ability to safely drive a motor vehicle. A driver who is under the influence of marijuana is more likely to cause a motor vehicle accident compared to a sober motorist.
Marijuana can affect one’s driving ability in many ways. To start, it can decrease an individual’s reaction time, which can make it difficult for him or her to adequately brake for slowed or stopped traffic, as well as halt at stop signs and yield to pedestrians. Also, marijuana can diminish an individual’s coordination and distort his or her perception. Again, these reduced capacities can affect a driver’s ability to safely operate his or her vehicle.
Although drug use contributes to a significant number of accidents here in New York, there is no adequate roadside test like a Breathalyzer that can determine whether a motorist is too high to drive. Also, drug testing usually isn’t pursued when it appears that alcohol has been involved because alcohol is easier to detect. Another difficulty is the fact that marijuana stays in one’s system for a long period of time, which means that an individual may test positive for marijuana even though he or she is no longer under the influence of it.
So, what does this mean for New Yorkers who have been injured in a motor vehicle accident they suspect were caused by a high driver? It means they carefully consider all of the evidence at hand to determine if a personal injury lawsuit is justifiable. This may include conducting an accident reconstruction; looking for signs of negligence such as speeding, failing to yield, or swerving into oncoming traffic; and speaking to individuals who witnessed the accident. If drug tests were conducted showing intoxication, then that can certainly play a big role in a lawsuit. In the end, it may be possible for those injured by drivers high on marijuana to hold the driver accountable for the damages they caused.