Last year, Missouri voters chose to legalize recreational cannabis. This has several potential implications for life in Kansas City — including the number of catastrophic car accidents caused by drugged drivers.
Of course, driving while high has been a problem in this country for decades, well before states began legalizing marijuana for medicinal and/or recreational use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 44 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes have drugs in their system. And the change in the law does not legalize driving while high on marijuana in Missouri. But it makes sense to expect that drugged driving will go up now that marijuana is legal and easily accessible to adults.
Enforcing DWI vs. drugged driving
Just like with alcohol, it is possible to consume marijuana responsibly. But driving while high is just as dangerous as drunk driving. THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, impairs your perception and coordination, and slows reaction times — all skills you need at peak efficiency to drive safely.
A major difference between drunk driving and drugged driving is detection. Figuring out if someone has alcohol in their system is relatively simple through breath and blood testing. But no such reliable technology exists to measure THC in a driver’s body. And traces of marijuana last in the body long after the effects of THC wear off. So testing positive for marijuana is not necessarily proof on its own that someone was driving while high.
Compensation is possible after a wreck
Deciding to drive while high on marijuana is reckless and disrespects every motorist’s duty of due care toward the others on the road. While criminal charges may not be possible every time a drugged driver kills or severely harms somebody in a collision, the standard of proof in a personal injury lawsuit is lower. You and your family can still seek total compensation for your injuries.