California recently joined its sister states on the West Coast, as well as a handful of other states in the country, in allowing for the legal use of marijuana amongst adults. No matter how one feels about whether this is a positive policy move or ill-advised decision, this social change is going to present new challenges with respect to traffic safety, particularly now that this drug is legal in the state with the largest population.
According to studies that have been summarized in media reports, recreational marijuana has fortunately not had a short-term effect on the number of fatalities on the road. However, the overall number of car accidents is up in states where the drug is legal for all purposes. Specifically, depending on which study one looks at, accidents tend to increase by 5 to 6 percent in states where marijuana use is legal.
The important thing for drivers in Alameda County and the greater Bay Area to remember is that it remains illegal in this state to driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including otherwise legal marijuana. Moreover, a person who chooses to drive while high is putting his or her own life and the lives of others at great risk.
A person who gets hurt by a drunk or drugged driver will have legal options. The victim can file a personal injury claim against the responsible driver for negligence since drugged driving is almost by definition careless driving. As part of the victim’s claim, the victim can ask for compensation for items like medical bills and other out-of-pocket expenses, future lost income and non-economic damages.