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Studies Show a Rise in Car Crashes in States with Legalized Recreational Marijuana

Posted by Steve Karimi | Oct 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

Two different studies conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute have determined that the incidents of car crashes are up in states that have legalized recreational marijuana. In fact, it has been determined that automobile crashes are up as much as 6 percent in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington as compared to their neighboring states who have yet to legalize marijuana. The multi-state analysis is based on collision loss data from January 2012 through to October 2017. Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana. The states began legal retail sales of marijuana in 2014, so marijuana was not legal in any state during the first two years of the data used in the respective studies.

Annual Fatalities in Washington State

Statistics provided by Washington State Patrol show annual fatalities in Washington State involving marijuana-impaired drivers has markedly increased since 2011. The survey looks at the three years before the legalization of recreational marijuana and the three years following the legalization of recreational marijuana. Before the legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington, there were between 57 and 64 annual fatalities from 2011 to 2013. In 2014, the year that recreational marijuana was legalized in Washington, fatalities involving marijuana-impaired drivers nearly doubled, totaling at 99. In 2015, the fatalities decreased very slightly to 97. Unfortunately, in 2016, the annual fatalities involving marijuana-impaired drivers again rose totaling at 116 fatal accidents.

Traffic data is often complex and difficult to understand. Washington has stricter marijuana DUI laws than many other states because there are no conclusive studies that correlate THC intoxication levels specifically with impaired driving. The statistics offered by the Washington State Patrol show that a fatality occurred involving a marijuana-impaired driver, but the statistics do not relate if the driver may have also been under the influence of any other substances at the time.

Marijuana DUI Laws in Washington State

Due to the fact that recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, the marijuana DUI laws are much more specific in Washington. In Washington, the marijuana DUI law states:

  • “A person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state: AND
  • The person has, within two hours after driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's blood.”

The penalties for marijuana DUIs are no different than the penalties for any other form of DUI. A first-time marijuana DUI offense in Washington has the potential to land you in jail for a year, cost you $5,000 in fines, and result in a 90-day suspension of your license to drive.

Contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a marijuana DUI in the Seattle area, you need the help of an experienced and dedicated lawyer. Steve Karimi has been named a top-rated criminal defense attorney in the Seattle area. Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor who now uses his knowledge and insight into prosecutorial legal strategies to fight for the rights of the accused. Contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi today.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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