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Increase in Colorado car accidents linked to marijuana

Patricia M. Jarzobski

Everyone knows that drinking and driving is not only illegal but also extremely dangerous. It has a direct correlation with the number of car accidents that occur, and often these accidents are fatal. But what about other mind-altering substances, such as marijuana? Recent studies have shown that there is a link between the states, including Colorado, that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and the number of car crashes that have occurred in them.

Past studies have indicated that there is no direct correlation between states that have legalized the use of marijuana and the number of fatal car accidents. New studies, however, have found that the number of car crashes overall in those states, including Colorado, is up almost 6 percent compared to surrounding states that have not legalized its use. Research shows that drivers under the influence of marijuana have delayed thought processes and perceptual abilities and also weave more when in a driving simulator.

Driving while impaired is illegal in all states. That includes alcohol, marijuana, narcotics or other mind-altering drugs. There is currently, however, no proven test that can determine the level of impairment a driver is under from marijuana the way Breathalyzers can determine impairment from alcohol. Therefore, there is no "legal limit" of THC one can have in his or her system. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended better training for officers in detecting impairment as well as a testing method they can use to confirm impairment during a traffic stop.

While the legalization of marijuana is a highly debated topic, one view most all can agree on is that driving while impaired is not okay. Many have been injured or killed by car accidents caused by impaired drivers. With the guidance and help of legal counsel, victims or their family members can bring a civil suit against impaired drivers to recoup some of the financial damages they have suffered as a result of a car crash.

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