When most people think about impaired drivers the first thing that likely comes to mind is that they are drunk. While it is of course true that someone who has consumed too much alcohol is in fact impaired when he or she gets behind the wheel to drive, there are other substances that could render a driver impaired, including marijuana. The only issue is, no one is completely sure what effect marijuana has on driving.
A study, which was conducted in Virginia Beach, Virginia, sought to provide answers on this front. It looked at the role alcohol and marijuana use by the driver played in more than 3,000 crashes that occurred over the course of 20 months.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study found that the odds of a crash occurring when the driver’s blood alcohol content was 0.08, was four times higher than those who were sober. The more alcohol consumed, the worse the outcome. Drivers were twelve times more likely to be in a crash when their BAC was 0.15. In short, there is a direct correlation between the two.
The same cannot be said where marijuana is concerned, however. Though the study found that drivers who used marijuana were at a 25 percent increased chance of being involved in a car accident as compared to a driver who is sober, there are other factors about those drivers that need to be taken into consideration. The gender and age of the drivers—young males—is relevant as this particular demographic is already more likely to get into crashes. Taking that into account, researchers determined that the risk of a crash occurring due to the use of the drug, no longer existed.
There is clearly much more research that needs to go into determining the impact of marijuana on car accidents occurring. In the meantime, individuals who are arrested and charged with drugged or drunk driving should make sure they have a qualified criminal defense lawyer on their side.