Studies show more drivers in accidents testing positive for marijuana

Authorities say more people are testing positive for marijuana after fatal accidents. This may be due in part to some states’ legalization of pot.

Since both medical and recreational marijuana has been legalized in many parts of Colorado, some people who use the drug, for any reason, may be confused as to whether they may legally drive after consuming marijuana. Others may know the law, yet choose to drive while high anyway. For whatever reason, statistics are showing that more people are driving while under the influence of marijuana, rivaling the numbers of those who drink and drive.

A report by CNN states that the number of those testing positive for drugs was at 15.1 percent in 2014, up from 12.4 percent in 2007. The drug most frequently seen in fatal impairment accidents has been marijuana, at 37 percent. Some authorities believe the increase in drug DUIs and accident fatalities is due to many states legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana. The exact risk that marijuana poses to drivers and others on the road is unclear due to conflicting study results, but some experts believe marijuana can double a person's risk of getting into a crash.

Using marijuana and driving in Denver

The recreational use of marijuana is legal in Denver, according to the State of Colorado's website, but people are not allowed to consume the drug in public places or in motor vehicles, and especially are prohibited from driving while under the influence. Anyone can get a DUI charge with five or more nanograms of THC (the intoxicating chemical in pot) per milliliter in their bloodstream. Those who are convicted of a marijuana DUI can face such penalties as fines, driver's license suspension and jail time.

Possible effects of driving high

What can happen when someone drives after using pot? While drunk drivers are more likely to speed, high drivers statistically drive slower and have inhibited reaction times. According to the Washington Post, many drivers get behind the wheel after combining alcohol with marijuana or other drugs - a dangerous practice that can significantly impair one's driving ability and cause devastating car accidents.

In one example, a woman drove her car off a road and smashed into a house, killing a woman sitting inside. The driver tested positive for marijuana. One study indicated a 4 percent increase in traffic fatalities in Colorado in which the drivers were found to have marijuana in their systems. In numerous surveys, many drivers in Colorado claimed that marijuana had no detrimental effect on their driving ability or said they felt they were better drivers after consuming the drug.

There may still need to be studies done to pinpoint the typical effects marijuana has on most drivers, as well as standardized DUI laws across states that have legalized marijuana. However, the fact remains that if you are injured in an accident deemed to be someone else's fault, you may be eligible for compensation. If you were injured by a driver with marijuana in his or her system, you may wish to contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Colorado.