Over the weekend, it is likely that many Denver residents attended holiday parties. Celebrating the New Year probably included indulging in alcoholic beverages. And with its legal recreational use, marijuana was likely also part of many end-of-year countdowns.
While there is no inherent legal problem with enjoying marijuana in Colorado, there is confusion and potential legal problems in regards to who can legally get behind the wheel of a car after using the substance. When is a high driver a legally impaired driver in marijuana cases?
Colorado is under pressure to answer this question. The state is a pioneer in pot legalization and is being looked to as an example of how marijuana use impacts society — including traffic safety. For the most part, this issue is discussed in criminal law terms. But it is actually an overall safety issue that all motorists should address as a priority.
There is no doubt among the general population that drunk driving is dangerous. The behavior causes injuries and death on a regular basis throughout the country. When is someone’s impairment by marijuana equal to or greater than a person’s legal impairment by alcohol? Is marijuana as dangerous as alcohol in drivers?
Colorado has a current legal blood test standard that suggests a person is legally impaired by marijuana: a THC level of 5 nanograms. Still, cases suggest that the level of impairment by pot varies so much, from person to person, case to case. Again, this is important to criminal law cases but also of importance to general traffic/community safety.
Residents in Colorado should ask questions beyond, “Is marijuana use legal?” To prevent more impaired driving accidents and other safety problems, it would serve everyone well to push for more tests and studies that determine the effects of marijuana use on driving.
For now, someone who is injured in a motor vehicle accident and believes drugs might have been the cause should work with a personal injury lawyer in their area who can assess the necessary elements of the case and ask the right questions.