If You Drive High, You Get a DUI

Man driving and smoking joint

Many drivers in New Jersey have likely heard the slogan, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” which was part of a popular campaign to combat drunk driving. Now, with the increase in states legalizing marijuana, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has added another slogan to its portfolio: “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different. If You Drive High, You Get a DUI.”

In addition to increased legalization, the NHTSA is focusing on studies that show an increase in the percentage of intoxicated driving crashes caused by drug impairment as compared to alcohol impairment. Alcohol is still involved in the majority of DUIs and DWIs, but the percentage involving marijuana, narcotics, and prescription drugs is slowly increasing. For this reason, police officers across the country, including in New Jersey, will be on heightened alert to arrest drivers suspected of driving while high.

New Studies Suggests Legalizing Marijuana Could Lead to More Accidents

Two studies from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), released last month, are now suggesting that the rate of motor vehicle accidents may have increased by as much as 6-percent in states where recreational marijuana has become legal. The increase was specifically noted in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, as compared with neighboring states where marijuana has not been legalized for recreational use.

In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older, with Oregon and Nevada following in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
One study was based on the frequency of insurance claims made for vehicular collisions in the aforementioned states, compared with the control states of Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming, based on data for January 2012 through October 2017. The data was also adjusted to control for differences in the rated driver population, insured vehicle fleet, the mix of urban versus rural exposure, unemployment, weather and seasonality.

Another study looked at just the number of police-reported crashes made from 2012 to 2016 in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, to determine how the rate of crashes changed after retail sales of marijuana began. This study estimates that the three states saw a 5.2-percent increase in the rate of crashes.

Marijuana Legalization in New Jersey

As previously discussed on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, there have been many discussions to legalize marijuana or THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) in New Jersey for recreational use in the near future. Currently, it remains a controlled substance in this state and is only legal for medicinal use.

In addition to Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, marijuana has also been legalized for recreational use in Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont and the District of Columbia, but it remains an illegal controlled substance federally. The new studies from the IIHS and HLDI may make legalization more difficult in the state.

Regardless of whether marijuana becomes legalized for recreational use, it will remain illegal to drive while impaired or “drive high.” New Jersey police officers are already on heightened alert to the possibility of impaired driving due to intoxicating drugs and marijuana, and the State already employs specially trained officers used to recognize drivers under the influence of marijuana. However, there is no perfect test to determine if someone is actually impaired as the result of marijuana, and many drivers have been wrongly accused.

If you or someone you know is pulled over and accused, arrested, or charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, drugs, or any other substance, you may have a legitimate defense to the charges of intoxicated driving. For that reason, it is important to contact a good defense lawyer as soon as possible. A good attorney will know the best defense in your case and may be able to get the charges dismissed completely.

New Jersey DUI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Defend You if You are Charged with Driving While High

If you or someone you know is charged with drunk driving or driving high, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who can explain your rights to you and help defend you. A good attorney can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.