Fatal Road Crashes Involving Pot Double in WA

Marijuana fatalities double

A Significant Increase in Marijuana-Related Fatal Crashes

The AAA released a study showing fatal collisions involving a driver who recently used marijuana have doubled since its legalization in Washington state.

“The significant increase in fatal crashes involving marijuana is alarming,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Perhaps more alarming is that the trend of marijuana related crashes is still on the increase. We don’t know where it will eventually flatten out or how legalized pot in one state can lead to negative consequences in other states where the drug is banned.

A previous study by the University of Colorado School of Medicine, reported two years ago by the research digest ScienceNews showed a similar increase in fatal collisions. Researchers indicated the results show “a need for better education and prevention programs to curb impaired driving.”

Marijuana, Cannabis, Hashish, Etc. Are Banned Substances for Drivers

While states may choose to allow the cultivation, possession, and transportation of marijuana, no state allows the use of marijuana (or its derivatives) while driving a vehicle.

About 1/3 of states have adopted the per se standard for the use of any drugs. The U.S. Department of Transportation established the per se standard for illegal drug use for commercial drivers. That means any evidence of recent illegal drug use is considered a violation of the law.

Per se means that any detectable amount of a controlled substance, other than a medicine prescribed by a physician for that driver in a driver’s body fluids, constitutes per se evidence of a “drugged driving” violation. Stop Drugged Driving

So called “medical marijuana” is available by a “card,” not a prescription, so it cannot be considered a prescribed mediation.

Commercial Drivers Are Subject to U.S. DOT Administrative Rules

All commercial drivers are banned from the use, possession or transport of drugs and alcohol while in a commercial motor vehicle.

Drivers with CDL licenses are subject to drug and alcohol testing. Furthermore, drivers can be subject to Disqualification under § 391.15 for driving a commercial motor vehicle under the influence of a 21 CFR 1308.11 Schedule I identified controlled substance. The federal government lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act

A driver who has been disqualified is not able to drive a commercial motor vehicle for one to three years. If the use of drugs or alcohol were involved in a bad crash, the courts can even impose a lifetime ban.

THC, the active component of marijuana stays in a person’s system for 4-8 weeks.

CDL drivers should be informed that under random testing, they can be called for a random test at any time — even on days off.

A driver may be directed to take a drug test even when at home in an off-duty status.  Once notified to report for random testing, drivers must immediately report to the testing location. Delaying your arrival may be considered a refusal (see 49 CFR 40.191), which is equivalent to testing positive. FMCSA

Can drivers use marijuana and drive— even if it is “legal” for recreational or “medical” use?

Due to safety issues, the answer is no — drivers may not. There can be severe consequences for themselves and their company, if they do . . .

Thank you for reading this.