Marijuana Use and Car Accidents

According to national statistics, people who have used marijuana are 25 percent more likely to be involved in a car accident than drivers who don’t use marijuana. These statistics are even more alarming when combined with another set of statistics – the number of people who acknowledge driving after consuming marijuana increased by 47 percent in a four-year span.

At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, each Virginia car accident attorney is dedicated to helping accident victims get the financial compensation they deserve for the injuries they have suffered. If you were injured in a crash caused by a driver under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, contact our office today.

How Prevalent Is Marijuana Use in Drivers?

It may surprise many people to discover just how much of an increase marijuana use has had over the past several years. As more states legalize recreational and medical marijuana, its use has become more popular. And it is not just teens who use the drug. Many adults who began using the drug as teens still do today and the stigma marijuana once had is no longer there.

Unfortunately, this popularity has also led to poor choices, since studies show that almost 15 percent of nighttime drivers have marijuana in their system while they are driving. Proof of this increased danger also exists in the addition of another national “Notorious Driving Day.”

Over the past several decades, both December 31st (New Year’s Eve) and July 4th have been the most designated the most dangerous two days of the year to be on the roads because of the high spike in car crash fatalities that are caused by drivers who are operating under the influence.

Unfortunately, as marijuana usage grows in popularity, a third day has been added to that list, April 20th, which is considered the unofficial marijuana holiday (420 is slang for marijuana, hence the date 4/20). The federal government compiled 25 years of data and found that there is a 12 percent increase in the number of car accident deaths on April 20th compared to other days of the year. This calculates out to more than 140 car accident victims killed each year on that date.

Dangerous Choice

People who use marijuana often do not think their driving is affected because the effects of marijuana are different than the effects of alcohol. However, there is a significant impact that using pot has on a driver’s ability to drive. Some of the more common effects include slower reaction time to what is occurring on the road, a longer time to make decisions, distorted perception, and impaired coordination – all factors which can lead to a deadly crash. And the danger becomes even greater if the driver also has alcohol in their system.

What Do I Do I Am a Victim of a Drug-Related Crash?

Under Virginia law, it is a crime to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In addition to criminal charges, an impaired driver who causes an accident may also be responsible for economic, non-economic, and punitive damages for any victims who were injured in the crash or to the survivors of any victims killed in the crash.

Punitive damages are punishment for the driver for their reckless behavior. Injured victims or anyone who has lost a loved one in a car accident caused by a drugged driver should contact a skilled Virginia car accident attorney to find out what legal options they may have. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, we have been advocating for injured clients since 1985 and will do all we can to ensure you receive the best possible outcome under the circumstances of your case. Call our office for a free case evaluation.