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Car Accidents Caused by Marijuana

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury


Many states have witnessed a dramatic increase in drug-related car accidents and fatalities since legalizing marijuana – a fact that should have Illinois drivers concerned. The recreational or medicinal drug is meant to be treated like alcohol or a potent prescription. It is both illegal and unwise for individuals to drive with it in their systems. However, users are getting behind the wheel after imbibing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, in some form. These drivers cause accidents, which can lead to a rise in auto accident deaths.

While recreational marijuana use is not legal in Illinois, the state is implementing a medical marijuana system, and in 2016, Gov. Rauner significantly reduced the punishment for possessing a small amount of pot. These changes could lead to a greater number of people obtaining the drug or feeling freer to use it recreationally. Without additional education on the dangers of drugged driving or stricter enforcement of the laws against such an offense, more individuals on the road will be at risk.

Victims of a marijuana-related collision should contact the lawyers of Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. to learn how to receive compensation for their injuries. Call us today at (312) 236-2900 to find out how we can help you.

The Dangerous Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana impacts users differently depending on their weight, metabolism, and more. The drug may effect a woman who weighs approximately a 125 pounds much differently than a man who weighs about 180 pounds. Additionally, various marijuana products have different potencies. Each of these individuals will be more significantly affected by a marijuana product containing 100 milligrams of THC compared to if they smoked or ingested approximately 10 milligrams of the compound. There can also be meaningful differences between smoking marijuana and absorbing THC through the lungs as compared to ingesting an edible form of the drug and absorbing THC through the digestive track. Smoking marijuana produces an instant high that quickly diminishes. Ingesting the drug leads to a delayed affect. It can take up to an hour to become high, which can then last for a significantly longer period of time.

While the specific impact of marijuana on individuals varies based on a number of factors, there are common side effects of using this drug, including:

  • Slowed reaction time
  • Impaired perception of time
  • Impaired perception of distance
  • Diminished coordination
  • Drowsiness

It is obvious how all of these side effects can affect a person’s ability to safely drive. Drivers need to be able to accurately detect distance and speed as well as quickly react to hazards in the road. High individuals are unable to perform these tasks well.

Illinois’ Law Against Drugged Driving

In 2016, Illinois’ zero-tolerance policy against operating a vehicle with any marijuana in the driver’s system changed. Now, Illinois has a more objective standard for what is considered drugged driving. It is unlawful for individuals to drive with 5 nanograms or more of THC in their blood or 10 nanograms or more of THC in their saliva. This standard enables the police and courts to treat marijuana more like alcohol in relation to driving. If the police suspect an individual is driving while high, they can arrest the driver and conduct an official blood or saliva test.

Recovering Compensation from a Drugged Driver

Illinois police may have a difficult time enforcing the state’s drugged driving law. There is no reliable equivalent of a portable breath test for marijuana, and due to marijuana’s varied effect on the user, it can be difficult to tell if someone is over the legal limit. Police officers will need probable cause based on other factors to arrest an individual for drugged driving. They can obtain this probable cause by witnessing drivers break one or more traffic laws, smelling or seeing marijuana or a related THC product in the car, or by conducting a field sobriety test. However, drivers can lawfully refuse to submit to a field sobriety test. While a blood or saliva test conducted upon arrest may provide a reading for the amount of THC in a person’s system, drivers can refuse these exams. This makes it difficult for prosecutors to prove drugged driving occurred.

However, victims of marijuana-related car accidents do not have to wait for a drugged driving charge or conviction to try and recover compensation. An experienced attorney will investigate the situation and provide evidence of the driver’s impairment to attempt to recover from the at-fault driver’s insurance or through a personal injury suit. There may be plenty of evidence of the driver’s negligence and fault for the accident without a drugged driving conviction.

Contact Us Today

Victims of car accidents in which the at-fault driver was high should be able to recover from the driver’s insurance provider or through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. However, it can be difficult to prove the driver’s impairment at the time of the accident. An experienced lawyer from Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help with this. An attorney will thoroughly investigate the collision and gather evidence of the driver’s intoxication and negligence behind the wheel.

Call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900