J&Y Law Firm discusses whether or not pot increases the rate of car accidents in California

Does Pot Increase the Rate of Car Accidents in California?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The answer to the question depends on the source you review. Some studies claim that legalized pot increases the rate of car accidents. Other studies state that there is little to no increase in car accidents that can be directly attributed to the legalization of marijuana. One thing is for certain. If an impaired driver causes an accident, victims of the accident can protect their right to recover compensation by discussing their case with a California car accident attorney.

Studies Related to Pot Use and Car Accidents

In 2017, two studies were released within the same week that claimed contradictory findings related to legalized marijuana and traffic accidents. In the study conducted by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), researchers claim that accident claims were approximately three percent higher in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado than they would have been had pot not been legalized. In the second study published in the AJPH (American Journal of Public Health), researchers found no increase in the number of traffic deaths in Washington and Colorado after the legalization of pot compared to other states. A significant thing to remember is that the two studies compared two different things — accident claims and traffic fatalities.

In 2018, the IIHS studied information from four states (Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington) and found that traffic accidents increased by approximately five to six percent in states where recreational marijuana was legal compared to states that did not legalize recreational marijuana. However, a correlation between legal pot and an increase in traffic accidents does not specifically prove causation.

Now in 2019, AAA released information that estimates 14.8 million people operating a motor vehicle within an hour of using marijuana. The report also revealed that a significant number of Americans believe it is less harmful to drive after using marijuana than it is to drive after drinking alcohol, taking prescription drugs, or while drowsy.

How Does Marijuana Impact Driving Ability?

While it may still be debatable whether the use of pot increases the rate of car accidents, it is widely assumed that the use of marijuana can affect driving.  Studies have shown that driving while high or buzzed driving increases the risk of being involved in a traffic accident. As with alcohol, marijuana can significantly impair a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely by impairing the person’s reaction time, judgment, and motor coordination.

What Should You Do If A Buzzed Driver Injures You?

If a driver causes an accident because he or she is impaired by marijuana, the driver could face criminal charges. While it is legal to use recreational marijuana in California, it remains a crime to drive while impaired. The driver may also face civil liability if the accident results in injuries and losses for another person.

Before you can recover compensation for your injuries, you must prove the drugged driver caused the crash. Therefore, it is wise to consult with a California personal injury attorney who can investigate the crash to determine the cause of the collision and gather evidence that proves the other driver caused the crash. Being under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash is just one factor. You must have additional evidence that proves the driver’s actions caused the crash to receive money for an injury claim.

Contact a California Personal Injury Attorney for Help

Car accidents involving drivers under the influence of marijuana can be complicated. Contact us today for a free consultation.  Our experienced California personal injury attorneys understand the legal issues involved in the case, including incorporating any criminal charges in the civil case to help prove fault and liability.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.