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Car Accidents & Colorado's Marijuana Laws

Car Accidents & Colorado's Marijuana Laws

Colorado was one of the leading states in marijuana legalization when recreational use of the substance was legalized in 2012. Now, four years after the law came into effect in January 2014, many are wondering about the effects of marijuana use on car accidents. Opponents of legalization cited concerns about an increase in accidents due to marijuana-impaired drivers. To combat these fears, Colorado also passed laws regulating marijuana used while driving in a similar manner to alcohol.

Colorado Laws For Marijuana Use While Driving

Because marijuana can affect users similarly to alcohol, Colorado passed laws to address the issue of stoned drivers getting behind the wheel. Like alcohol, any amount of marijuana can impair a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle. It is recommended that users never consume marijuana and drive, but there are legal limits allowable in the bloodstream.

In Colorado, drivers may not have 5 nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or more in their whole blood sample.

Colorado is an implied consent state, which means that driver who refuses a blood test will have their driver’s license suspended, even if they are not over the limit. Colorado’s open container laws also forbid the use of marijuana while driving and the possession of marijuana or paraphernalia in the passenger area of a car. Overall, marijuana is controlled similarly to alcohol when it comes to traffic laws.

How Can Marijuana Contribute to Car Accidents?

Marijuana, like alcohol, is a central nervous system depressant. It can cause drowsiness, slowed reaction times, and can inhibit judgment abilities. Temporary impairment can last up to 4 hours after ingesting the drug, which means that users may still be impaired as they get behind the wheel, hours later. As the number of users is growing, it is a concern that car accidents will increase.

Are Car Accidents Increasing?

From 2013 to 2016, there was a 40% increase in the number of drivers involved in fatal accidents. The number who tested positive for alcohol rose 17%, while marijuana users jumped 145%. This spike, from 47 drivers in 2013 to 115 in 2016, indicates that more accidents are involving marijuana. It is difficult to definitively say whether marijuana is causing the increase in accidents, trends certainly seem to indicate that marijuana use is contributing to fatal car accidents.

Have You Been Injured In a Car Accident? Get Help - (719) 602-588

Since the legalization of marijuana, many accidents have been caused by drivers who were under the influence. If you were injured by an impaired driver, you have the right to compensation. Our Colorado Springs car accident attorneys can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. With more than 120 years of collective experience, Clawson & Clawson, LLP is well equipped to handle your case, no matter how complex.

Begin your case with a free consultation. Call (719) 602-5888 today or fill out our contact form.


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