Does Getting High Affect Your Ability to Drive?

Does smoking pot and getting high affect your ability to drive? Research says…


For the last few years, Michigan has been involved in the legal storm surrounding the legalization of marijuana. With that issue in mind, we are forced to consider how it can impact a person’s ability to drive. Most people, when you ask them if it is safe to ‘drive high’ will tell you it is not. After all, it’s a commonly known fact that marijuana slows your reaction time, which can be deadly on the road. However, it appears that there is a lot more to the argument surrounding drugged driving!


According to a survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drinking alcohol has a drastic and almost immediate effect on your ability to drive. In addition, it significantly increases your chance of a collision. However, that said, there is currently no statistical evidence to suggest that marijuana use has the same effect. Surprised? You’re not alone!


The NHTSA conducted a series of 20-month surveys over the course of two consecutive years in an effort to determine whether or not marijuana and alcohol cause the same results for drivers. The information they gathered during that time frame pointed to some very unexpected answers, which are sure to ruffle some feathers here in Michigan and in other parts of the country.


The results of the study revealed that while marijuana users were about 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of drug use, this was largely due to other factors. According to the NHTSA, “other factors, such as age and gender, appear to account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users.” Which is how they were able to come to the preliminary conclusion that marijuana wasn’t much of a factor in car crashes.


One of the many obstacles raised in the fight to legalize marijuana in the state of Michigan is the issue of drugged driving. Laws passed in 2014 attempted to address this issue by updating legislation, making “drugged driving” an offense on par with “drunk driving”. One of the concerns raised at the time, though, was the issue of roadside testing for marijuana.


Medical marijuana advocates spoke out against the technology, claiming that it had not been proven in independent testing.


Because of this, it could not be relied on not to incriminate legal users. It has also long been the opinion of advocates that users of legal medical marijuana should not be treated like drunk drivers, and the two circumstances are not comparable. As it turns out, they may have been right all along. But it’s not a done deal.


As former acting NHTSA Administrator David Kelly was quick to point out, these results don’t mean that people should feel free to get stoned and then get behind the wheel. Remember that just because one federal organization got certain results from a small study, doesn’t mean that the law changes to accommodate that! Impaired driving is impaired driving, regardless of what substance caused the impairment. Moderation and self-awareness are always advisable in all circumstances.


The NHTSA was very clear, in the wake of this study, about the fact that further testing is needed to prove definitive results one way or another. In that light, we would like to remind our readers that test results, however conclusive they may be, and however well they may support your beliefs about a certain subject, are not laws! This may be encouraging news in that it offers hope for a future with fewer criminalizing marijuana laws, but it doesn’t mean that you should feel free to get high and then drive. Our advice remains that you should never drive after using weed, alcohol or any other intoxicant whether or not the intoxicant is legal. People get hurt; people die; people go to prison. It’s just not worth it. If you’re going to drive, be 100% sober.


So be careful, and always think ahead when making choices about merging driving with the consumption of controlled substances. However, in the event that you misjudge yourself and end up needed a drugged driving attorney, we are here for you. The experienced DUI attorneys at The Kronzek Firm are available 24/7 in the event of an unexpected catastrophe. We can help you pick up the pieces and protect your future moving forward, Call us at 866-766-5245. We are here for you.


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