April is National Cannabis Awareness Month. Like with other awareness months, this one aims to bring facts about the plant to light. While those who support the use of marijuana for recreational and medicinal use want people to know that the drug is a safe and useful one, those opposed to its recreational use want people to be aware of its potential dangers.
According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of drivers who admit to driving while stoned has grown by 50 percent since a survey taken in 2007. At that time, the number of drivers who admitted to driving after smoking marijuana was 8.6 percent. That number rose to 12.6 percent in 2014 and is expected to be higher today.
Drivers who tested positive for some type of substance that would impair driving was 22 percent in 2014. Those substances include both legal and illegal drugs and medications. Although the number of drugged drivers may be on the rise, the number of DUIs has declined across the country. It is thought that tougher laws surrounding driving under the influence as well as public education campaigns have had a positive impact on the behavior.
When a police officer suspects a person of drinking and driving, they can administer a breathalyzer as a way of determining just how intoxicated a person is. To date, there is no reliable test to determine how much cannabis a person may have in their system at the time of the suspected impaired driving. This is making it difficult to come up with exact numbers for drugged driving.
What is known is that marijuana impairs driving. The drug relaxes the body, slows reaction times and decreases awareness. Those who believe that smoking marijuana and driving is not a serious issue say that people who are high know that they are impaired. This leads people to drive more carefully than those who are impaired due to alcohol. People who have smoked pot typically avoid risky situations on the road. Whether this is fact or merely anecdotal is unclear.
It is recommended that anyone who has taken marijuana via some method not get behind the wheel. Drugs and alcohol impair driving, that much is known. It is also known that every person reacts differently to marijuana and it should not be taken for granted that those who are “high” drive more safely. While this may be true for one person, it may not be true for all.
If you are pulled over and arrested for drugged driving in Pennsylvania, you have the right to defend yourself in a court of law. Reach out to our experienced attorneys for assistance in putting together a strong defense. We will review the details of your arrest and charges and advise you of your legal options at no cost to you during an initial consultation. Call us today to schedule your appointment.