Marijuana DUI an Increasing Threat Amid Legalization Efforts

According to a recent study the prevalence of illicit drugs found in fatal vehicle crashes is low when compared with alcohol. As new marijuana laws take affect it is clear that police officers will begin to focus on marijuana DUI enforcement
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Our Los Angeles DUI lawyers do not believe anyone should drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol but would like to educate the public about recent scientific findings. The report shows that there is a much greater likelihood of detecting alcohol in the blood of a driver who was fatally injured than either illicit substances or prescription drugs.

Researchers evaluated the amount of drugs and alcohol in the blood of drivers who were killed between 2008 and 2011.

Investigators stated that the alcohol was found to be the most prevalent drug in the body of fatally injured drivers as they expected.

The study revealed that a very low percentage of fatally injured drivers had illicit drugs in their systems. These results run counter to law enforcement officials and others who are in support of strict zero-tolerance policies.

Zero-tolerance policies are utilized to restrict marijuana and its metabolites in the blood of drivers. The major problem with zero-tolerance policies is that metabolites from marijuana usage stay in the blood long after the effects of the cannabis have worn off.

The aggressive zero-tolerance policies disproportionately affect medicinal marijuana patients because they have metabolites in their system even when not under the influence of marijuana.

These results will not come as a surprise to researchers Researchers at the journal of Accident Analysis and Prevention. They conducted a similar study in 2012 with similar results and conclusions.

The researchers made the observation that the results were somewhat surprising when one considers the dramatic increase in arrests of drivers who are arrested as a result of zero-tolerance policies.

Investigators found stated that cases submitted for toxicological analysis have increased 10 times over but these aggressive law and order changes have failed to cause a meaningful reduction in the number of drivers under the influence of drugs.

A 2012 analysis of zero-tolerance policies in the United States revealed that per se drug laws have done nothing to reduce traffic fatalities.

A total of 11 states in the United States have instituted per se zero tolerance thresholds for any cannabinoid or their metabolites. It is important to note that per se and “zero tolerance” cannot be used interchangeably.

Per se is means that the drug test results are sufficient to convict a driver if they are over whatever threshold is set (but the threshold may be 5ng/ml, as it is in Washington state).

A zero-tolerance policy means that a driver is not allowed to have any cannabinoids in their system whatsoever.

To compare the two – a driver who has 4ng/ml of cannabinoids in their blood is per se guilty in a zero-tolerance state but would not be per se guilty in Washington state (please note that there are other ways to be found guilty under impaired driving statutes and only an attorney can properly advise you).

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Prevalence of alcohol and other drugs and the concentrations in blood of drivers killed in road traffic crashes in Sweden, November 21, 2013.

More Blog Entries:

Legal Possession: Should the Odor of Marijuana Amount to Probable Cause? , December 5, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
Cannabis Patients Fight to Keep Rights , December 3, 2013, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog