According to The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), the higher on drugs one is, the more significant risks they take while driving. A 2018 report revealed, 42% of all drivers killed in collisions (who had been tested) tested positive for legal or illegal drugs, and the percentage has increased in each following year of data.
OTS, California law enforcement, federal agencies, and the cannabis and pharmaceutical industry representatives are all concerned and wish to bring greater awareness to the public, particularly drivers who take prescribed drugs and those using illegal ones. Bringing awareness and potentially more reform could prevent even more significant loss of life due to these severe issues in the future.
California’s Proposition 64 doesn’t negate your right to safety
First, despite California’s Proposition 64 (The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (of 2016), which made it legal for people 21 and older to use and grow marijuana for personal use, drivers still have rights and laws of the road in place to protect them in the event of a collision with a high driver.
Although using marijuana is permitted in private residences or at a business licensed for the on-site consumption of marijuana, using marijuana while driving a motor vehicle remains illegal, anywhere that prohibits smoking tobacco, and in all public spaces.
California’s drunk and drugged driving law applies to over-the-counter medications that make a motorist sleepy and now legal drugs like marijuana. The use of marijuana, therefore, is not permitted in a car, drivers cannot drive with THC in their system, and it may not be out in the open in a vehicle.
How to prove a driver was driving while high?
Testing a driver for THC isn’t simple or very straightforward (at the moment). A recent state report from The California Highway Patrol’s Impaired Driving Task Force recommends several changes to test and track California drivers impaired by marijuana and other drugs more efficiently. For now, officers have to mainly rely on monitoring a driver’s actions for symptoms of marijuana use. An officer can observe a driver’s pupils for reactions and dilation. Marijuana affects a part of the brain that controls movement, stability, and coordination, and can diminish perception and memory. Officers can check for tremors in eyelids and the body. If marijuana use is suspected, only a blood test can verify the presence of THC and its levels, but this is time-sensitive, as the level of THC reduces by a whopping 75% within only one hour.
But what if a high or stoned driver has already injured you?
A driver arrested for DUI will have their driver’s license suspended and sometimes revoked. The court ruling may not only fine the driver but require jail time.
If a driver caused a crash while high, the driver’s car insurance would pay for medical bills, lost wages, car repairs/replacement, and other expenses caused during the collision. If the driver at fault doesn’t have insurance, your insurance’s underinsured and uninsured coverage will kick in.
Your rights and options after a crash with a high driver
First, call the police immediately. It is vital to make sure the police come to the crash scene as your insurance company will need an accident report and the driver’s insurance and contact information. In the event the other driver is found to be high or stoned, your insurance company will go after that driver’s insurance to get you compensation for expenses related to the crash.
If possible, make sure to take pictures of the high driver’s car and VIN, as well as any damage to your vehicle.
Next, it is wise to reach out to an attorney right away following a crash with a high or stoned driver as again testing is tricky, and you will want as much expertise on your side as possible to make sure you get total compensation.
An experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney can ensure that you receive complete compensation for pain, suffering, lost wages (if you are out of work for any length of time), medical bills, prescriptions, therapy, and all other applicable damages.
Additionally, if the insurance settlement offer isn’t enough to cover your expenses, a personal injury attorney can aid you in filing a lawsuit.
Do not feel you don’t have ground to stand on with a stoned driver — you do but keep in mind that aspects of these cases can be time-sensitive and it is in your best interests to consult with an attorney.