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Riding High: The Truth About Stoned Driving

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We’ve all seen commercials about drunk driving. They might be more elaborate than they were a few years ago, but they all end the same. The driver is pulled over and appears to be intoxicated. The officer of course notices, and the driver ends up with a DUI.

The process, although it might be outdated, is fairly simple, even if the alcohol isn’t pouring out of the car as the driver rolls down the window. But with the growing legalization of marijuana, we’re starting to hear a lot more stories about stoned driving.

Driving Under the Influence: The Weed Edition

Whether or not weed is legalized, stoned driving will still be illegal. This might not seem like anything new, but there’s a continuing and contradicting conversation around stoned driving and how impaired someone is while under the influence. You might think that law enforcement could use a similar process for stoned driving as they do for drinking and driving, but it turns out that it presents its own set of challenges.

Is Stoned Driving Worse Than Drunk Driving?

As marijuana legalization—whether medicinal or recreational—spreads, people are growing increasingly concerned about the risk of people riding high. While highway safety statistics do show an increase (and a dramatic one at that) in the number of drivers who test positive for marijuana, it seems like drinking and driving is still a deadlier threat.

When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted surveys in 2013 and 2014, they found that there was roughly a 50% increase in people driving under the influence of pot since 2007. In the same survey, the NHTSA also found that the number of drunk drivers had declined by about one-third in the same period. This might be due to tougher laws, cities, and states cracking down on drunk driving, and the educational campaigns (like those commercials) that became more prevalent.

What’s the Difference?

Unlike being drunk, being high tends to leave you more aware of the fact that you are impaired. Because of this, high drivers tend to compensate far more than drunk drivers, going so far as to avoid situations that are even slightly risky (passing other cars, taking sharp turns). Oftentimes, they go so far as to leave more space between themselves and other cars, while drunk drivers might use the car ahead of them as a kind of guide.

This all seemingly comes to an end, though, if the driver combines pot and alcohol. The exaggerated caution is eliminated, and it takes the effects of impairment beyond what either substance might do on its own.

A DUI Is a DUI

The best solution, in either scenario, is to always avoid driving under the influence. If you get pulled over and arrested for stoned driving or drunk driving, it won’t really matter much which substance you’ve been using.

But, even if you do indulge, you can count on Thiessen Law Firm to have your back. From DUIs to drug possession, we fight tirelessly to earn our clients the fair legal treatment they deserve, so that they can regain their freedom and resume their lives. If you’ve been the victim of these unfair laws, call us to schedule a free consultation and get your life back on track.

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