DRIVERS IMPAIRED BY MARIJUANA ARE KILLING AND MAIMING A LOT OF PEOPLE IN COLORADO

We all know that far too many people are killed and others maimed by drunk drivers. According to the CDC, someone is killed by a drunk driver every 51 minutes. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

Unfortunately, like an evil twin emerging out the graveyard, we are now seeing an explosion of killing and maiming caused by marijuana impaired drivers. According to the Denver Post, the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana has increased more than 145% since the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012. http://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/25/colorado-marijuana-traffic-fatalities/.

Critically, the Denver Post was able to prove that all of the drivers who tested positive for marijuana after fatal wrecks had THC levels that indicated use within a few hours of being tested. The Post also did the hard work of obtaining and reviewing the actual coroner’s reports on drivers who died in crashes. The coroner’s reports showed that there is a dramatic increase in the potency levels of the marijuana found in these deceased drivers. Of course that alarming data is understandable given the fact that the THC content of legalized marijuana is in most cases much higher than that of marijuana prior to legalization.

The actual number of drivers impaired by marijuana is likely even higher. Much higher. That’s because, as the Post reports, barely half of all drivers involved in fatal crashes are ever tested for drugs. And in routine traffic stops, once an impaired driver tests positive for alcohol, often there is not even a test done for marijuana.

For example, I took a client’s personal injury case to a jury trial in Denver District Court after my client was badly injured by a driver high on marijuana and pot. Unfortunately, once that driver tested positive for alcohol the lab was told by the arresting agency not to test the defendant’s blood for marijuana, in order to save on the cost. Fortunately we were able to prove the marijuana use and likely THC intoxication other ways, and the jury properly awarded a large amount to our very deserving client.

The sad truth is that as marijuana use skyrockets after legalization there is going to be this ongoing explosion of death and serious injury on the roadway. I hope that you have a chance to read the linked Denver Post piece in depth, and that you share it with friends and family. We need to work together to try to combat this rapidly expanding danger.

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