According to the California Highway Patrol, there may be as much as a 70% increase in DUI arrests in marijuana-related traffic accidents. Last year they released 2017 stats for the CHP Golden Gate District : 

For All of 2017: 

  • DUI arrests just for using cannabis: 197
  • DUI arrests for both cannabis and alcohol: 183
  • Traffic collision causing property damage plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 22
  • Traffic collisions causing an injury plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 7
  • Traffic collisions causing a death and a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 0
  • When alcohol is combined with cannabis, injury collisions in 2017 rose to 24 and fatal collisions were at 7
Marijuana DUI Arrests
Marijuana DUI Arrests

From January to mid-April of 2018:

  • DUI arrests just for cannabis: 87
  • DUI arrests for both cannabis and alcohol: 60
  • Traffic collision causing property damage plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 9
  • Traffic collisions causing an injury plus a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 7
  • Traffic collisions causing a death and a DUI arrest for just cannabis use: 0
  • When alcohol is combined with cannabis, injury collisions were at 4 and fatal collisions were at 1

The CHP began keeping track of incidents in which drivers were stopped for erratic driving and the officer detected marijuana due to drug paraphernalia being found or a passenger was stoned. In these cases there was no DUI arrest. Through April 2018 that number was 3,754.

Marijuana-related traffic accidents have been getting a lot of attention in the news these past few years since 9 states plus the District of Columbia started legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. These states include: Colorado, Washington, California, Oregon, Alaska, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada.

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Controversy still surrounds the discussion on exactly what a “marijuana-related accident” is because law enforcement in these states hasn’t yet completely defined the problem. The controversy began in 2016, which was 4 years after Colorado legalized the recreational use of pot, one of two states to do so at the time. Gary Johnson, who was running for President as the Libertarian candidate said, “’Marijuana-related’ hospital visits, fatal traffic accidents and school suspensions in Colorado have ‘not gone up significantly’ since the state legalized marijuana.”

Several official sources immediately refuted that claim, showing that there had been a huge rise in those exact problems since the drug had been legalized. The issue is that there is limited data, which makes it utterly impossible to know precisely which of these incidents were caused directly by the use of marijuana. ProCon.org explained it this way, “Unlike with alcohol use, when you test positive for marijuana it does not definitively mean that you were under the influence of marijuana when the traffic accident occurred.”

In any case, marijuana use is at the forefront in a number of fatal traffic accidents in those states where the laws pertaining to marijuana use have become less stringent. 

If you or a loved one has been the victim of motor vehicle negligence related to marijuana use and would like to speak with a Bay Area auto accident attorney, please contact us. At O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley we have 50 years of litigation and trial experience. We are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights.

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