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Deadly Crashes Involving Marijuana Rise Following Legalization

February 06, 2020

Washington State - AAA reports that there have been a large number of Washington state drivers involved in fatal crashes that are testing positive for recent use of marijuana, according to CLARKESVILLEONLINE.COM.  Washington legalized marijuana in December 2012, and since that time, the rate of drivers testing positive for the drug after deadly vehicle accidents has doubled.*

AAA states that it is important to recognize the impact of legalizing marijuana across the country because eleven states and the District of Columbia have since legalized the recreational and medicinal use of the drug. The study completed by the AAA Foundation indicated that nearly nine percent of drivers involved in fatal wrecks tested positive for the presence of THC, the drug's main psychoactive ingredient, in the five years leading up to legalization. Since the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana became legal, the percentage rose to eighteen percent for the period from 2013 through 2017. 

The study did not determine that the drug contributed to each of the collisions, only that the drivers tested positive for the substance. Marijuana has an impact on a person’s ability to concentrate and can slow down reaction times.  These effects can be dangerous for drivers. Earlier studies indicated that drivers impaired by marijuana have twice the risk of crashing as a person who is not impaired. 

Determining whether THC levels impact a person’s driving in a collision is difficult. The drug impacts people differently, and the drug may remain in a person’s system when it is no longer affecting them.  AAA recommends that drivers undergo a two-pronged test which would include a blood test indicating recent drug use, and a test of their behavior to determine whether the test individual is showing signs of having been impacted by the drug. Of course, AAA indicated that driving under the influence of any drug or alcohol is never acceptable. 

It is well documented that most accidents can be prevented with a little extra care and safety education.  Since 1984, Montlick & Associates has been dedicated to keeping children and families safe on the roadway.  Our commitment runs deep through our extensive, award-winning public service programs that provide people the information they need to avoid injuries.  To learn about our Don't Drink and Drive Campaign, Child Passenger Safety Programs, Booster Seat Campaign and much more, visit and click on “community service,” or simply click here. You can also learn more about one of our newest driver and passenger safety programs by visiting

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Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.