All across the state, users of marijuana are rejoicing. The reason for celebration? Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed a bill that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana. In theory, this could be a positive thing: state funds spent on jailing low-level, nonviolent offenders decrease and fewer Illinois residents experience the long-term effects of a drug charge on their record. Yet, when you take a close, hard look at the trends in other states, the recent bill’s passing may carry an even heavier cost, particularly when it comes to auto accident deaths.
Traffic Fatalities Involving Marijuana Intoxication Are Increasing
Although Illinois drivers can still be convicted of a DUI for testing positive with five nanograms of THC per milliliter or more in their bloodstream, the decriminalization and outright legalization of the drug has led to a sharp increase in the number of traffic fatalities involving marijuana intoxication across the country. In fact, one study found that fatal crashes involving drivers with THC in their system tripled, going from 4.2 percent of deceased intoxicated drivers to 12.2 percent. Though still a far cry from the rates of drunken drivers, the increase suggests that marijuana intoxication could likely continue to increase as more and more states continue to legalize its use and decriminalize possession.
How Marijuana Intoxication Places Other Drivers at Risk
Researchers theorize that, when marijuana is decriminalized, users fall under the assumption that it is “safe.” They ignore the penalties for driving under the influence and mistakenly believe they are not doing anyone harm. However, research has shown that marijuana can have a significant impact on driving ability. In a University of Iowa study, drivers were placed behind the wheel of a simulator under the influence of one of three substances: low concentration THC, alcohol, or a placebo. The study examined about 250 parameters of driving ability, but the researchers focused specifically on weaving within the lane, the number of times a driver left their lane, and the speed of their weaving.
Results showed that all marijuana drivers had an increase of weaving within their lanes. Those with a blood concentration of approximately twice the legal limit had significant issues while driving, putting them about equal in weaving, lane departures, and speed as those with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent– the legal limit for drunk driving. The researchers summarized that five nanograms as a limit is not restrictive enough. They also stated that more attention should be given to driver education on the effects of marijuana use while driving.
Injured by an Intoxicated Driver? Our DuPage County Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
When intoxicated drivers injure innocent victims, Mevorah Law Offices LLC is there to help them pick up the pieces. We understand the impact that a drugged or drunk driving accident can have on your life, and we fight to get you the fair and just compensation you deserve. Schedule your free initial consultation with our experienced DuPage County personal injury attorneys today to learn more. Call us at 630-932-9100.
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