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Legalized Marijuana & Its Effect on Vehicle Accidents in Colorado

Is legal pot causing more car accidents in Colorado?

legal pot and car accidents

Recreational marijuana has been legal in the state of Colorado since 2014. Since that time, it has been estimated that collision claims in Colorado have increased over 2.6 percent. This determination is based on collision statistics recorded since the legalization of recreational marijuana.

But correlation is not causation. So the question remains:

Is legal marijuana responsible for the increase in Colorado car crashes?

National Marijuana-Accident Study

These statistics were part of a 2016 study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an industry leading insurance research group. The national study took many factors into consideration including age, gender, weather, number of vehicles on the road at the time of the collision and if the person making the claim was employed and more. Control states were used for comparison.

The study analyzed traffic fatalities in states before and after they legalized medical marijuana. Fatality rates varied across states, but on average there was a ten percent decrease. (Seven states had a decrease, two experienced an increase, and the rest did not have any significant change in their accident rates.)

These findings have led some experts to believe there is a different effect on vehicle accidents when it comes to legalizing medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.

Arbitrary Legal Limits & Unanswered Questions

Officials have implemented numerous countermeasures that have proven to be successful for decreasing impaired driving due to alcohol. When it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana, though, there are many questions that have yet to be answered.

One study published by AAA showed that the legal THC limits put in place by states such a Colorado are arbitrary and not based on scientific research. This has resulted in innocent drivers getting a conviction and guilty drivers being let free.

Collision Claim Frequency

Collision claims are the most common type of claim submitted to insurance companies. This covers the physical damage caused to a driver's vehicle in a collision with an object or another vehicle. The rate of collision claim frequency is determined by identifying the number of insurance collision claims and dividing that number by insured vehicles.

More research is needed on the effects of legal marijuana on driving. A large study is currently ongoing in Colorado and other states to identify how legal marijuana impacts the risk of crashes involving injuries. The earliest these results will be available is 2020.

Drugged Driving Accident Compensation

Regardless of legalization laws, a person in Colorado who is seriously injured in a car accident as a result of a driver under the influence of marijuana has a right to compensation. Their injuries, as well as property damage, should be covered by the driver who is determined to be at fault for the accident.

In many cases, the best results in such cases are obtained by using the services of a Colorado car accident attorney. At the Babcock Law Firm, we know exactly what to expect and how to hold the responsible party liable for your injury costs. We are experts at negotiating the best possible outcome for our client's in a Colorado car accident lawsuit.

Observing Drivers Under the Influence

It is important to notice how cars are being driven and report someone who shows signs of driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or any other substances. Here are some indications that a driver is intoxicated:

  • They struggle to maintain proper lane position.
  • A vehicle may fail to maintain proper acceleration as well as braking.
  • They may not be aware of changes in driving conditions.
  • A driver is unable to judge the road and how close they are to other objects.
  • They make over-corrections for steering and more.

If you observe such behavior, stay far away. Also, get the license plate number and details of the color, make and model of the vehicle if you can. Pull over to a safe place, call 911 and provide them with the information.

Read more: 5 Critical Steps to Take Following a Drunk Driving Accident

Colorado Intoxicated Driving Penalties

A Colorado driver can have their license suspended by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a DUI without regard to any criminal charges they may be facing. These are known as Administrative Penalties.

A person can receive an automatic suspension as well as be required to pay fees and have points put on their record. It has been estimated by the DMV that a first-time offender convicted of a DUI charge could pay up to $10,000 with increased insurance, fees to get a license back, probation supervision fees and more. A person may also spend time in a county jail and be involved in a personal injury lawsuit.

If you or a loved one were in a car accident because another driver was under the influence of legalized marijuana or alcohol, then you will likely need legal help. Consider discussing your case with an experienced Colorado auto accident attorney like Mack Babcock by scheduling a free consultation.

Injured on the job? Did you know you can be denied workers’ compensation if you fail a drug test?

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