Washington State Pot Initiative and Impaired Driving

Yesterday, the voters in Washington State said “yes” in Washington Initiative 502 (I-502) which is marijuana reform. The initiative legalized small amounts of marijuana products for adults and also subjected the products to a state tax.

We are still waiting to see how the law shakes out especially since the U.S. Department of Justice sent Washington state a letter saying that Federal marijuana laws are “unchanged” by legalization. At this point there is a conflict between the feds and the state on de-criminalizing marijuana.

seattle car accident attorneyAs a personal injury attorney, our concern is that there will be stoned — impaired — drivers on the highway that cause accidents that cause property damages, seriously injures innocent people and kills people.

We haven’t seen Washington state statistics but the Los Angeles Times reports that 1,000 car accident deaths occur every year in California due to drivers who are high on drugs. The California Highway Patrol blames the increase in the medical marijuana use over the past 10 years for the accidents.

Gil Kerlikowske, former Seattle police chief and current director of National Drug Control Policy for the White House says:

Marijuana is a significant and important contributing factor in a growing number of fatal accidents. There is no question, not only from the data but from what I have heard in my career as a law enforcement officer.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), based on random nighttime check on drivers, 16.3% of all drivers are impaired at nighttime, half of those are impaired by marijuana.

At this point, the NHTSA says that the government is just not sure what level of marijuana usage impairs a driver. Several studies are currently being conducted to answer that question.

Right now, if the Washington State Patrol suspects a driver is high, they can conduct an examination consisting of various skills tests which can aid in determining whether a driver is impaired.

Expect there to be a lot of legal wrangling in the future over this contentious law.

If you have been seriously injured in a car accident caused by a driver that was drunk, high or on a cell phone, you may be able to obtain compensation for your damages. A skilled a personal injury attorney can be helpful to you. At The Farber Law Group, we have more than 30 years experience representing those injured by drunk or impaired drivers and the family of those killed.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. Our Bellevue office is here to assist you.

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If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, you deserve to know your legal rights. Herbert Farber, the founder of The Farber Law Group, is a seasoned Washington accident attorney and offers potential clients a free, no-obligation case review. We will meet with you to discuss your legal options after reviewing the merits of your case. Call us toll-free at 1-800-244-9087 to schedule your no-pressure and confidential case consultation.

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