In 2016, California became one of the latest states whose voters decided to legalize recreational marijuana. Many of the laws didn’t go into effect until January 1st, 2018, and that includes new laws regarding having marijuana in the car while in operation. Detractors opposing legalization point to the possibility of driving while intoxicated on cannabis. As such, a new state law makes illegal smoking marijuana while driving, even as a passenger. The Mercury News reports.
Officials fear that with the legalization of recreational marijuana, driving while stoned will become more common.
While alcohol-impaired driving is still more dangerous and more common, since 2006 the number of drivers in fatal collisions with drugs other than alcohol in their system has increased. Those substances include THC, one of the active chemicals in marijuana, and the numbers have risen to 38.7%. That’s nearly 40 percent of people involved in fatal accidents who have some kind of drug in their system.
Electronic freeway signs now read, “Drive high, get a DUI” to warn those who might try to drive stoned.
In other states, such as Washington, another recreational state, fatal crashes involving marijuana doubled since legalized the drug in 2012. One in six drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had recently used marijuana.
Penalties for smoking pot in a car start at $70, but can rise as high as $10,000 and can be similar to DUI charges if someone is injured or killed in an accident.
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