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Marijuana use has increased significantly over the past 15 years. Since 2012, many states have decriminalized or legalized the use and sale of marijuana. As more are poised to follow suit, opponents, including motor safety advocates and law enforcement officials, express concern about the effects of marijuana legalization on driving safety.
A recent American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety study focused on Washington, one of the first two states to legalize marijuana in 2012. It is cited as an example of marijuana legalization’s effects on road safety. According to the study, cannabis use impairs driving-related capacities including psychomotor functions, cognition, attention, vigilance, tracking, reaction time and coordination. The study further revealed that fatal wrecks involving drivers who were under the influence of marijuana increased in Washington after marijuana was legalized.
However, proponents of marijuana legalization point to data from a recent case-control study showing that there was no significant association between marijuana use and collision risk. They emphasize that the data shows no difference between traffic fatality rates in Washington and other states that have not legalized marijuana. Also, according to the AAA study, drivers who use marijuana tend to drive slower, keep more distance and pass other cars less than those under the influence of alcohol. They may also be able to more accurately estimate their own impairment and therefore temporarily compensate for some of their diminished skills in comparison to those who drink and drive.
Penalties for marijuana DUIs vary by state. Some common criminal penalties include jail time, fines, community service, ignition interlock and license suspension. Those who drive under the influence of alcohol or marijuana and cause the death of another person may also be subject to civil penalties from a wrongful death suit.
In Delaware, a wrongful death claim may be brought by the victim’s spouse, parent, child and siblings. The victim’s family members may be awarded damages if the defendant is found to have caused the death of the victim through his or her wrongful action, such as driving under the influence of marijuana. Judges will consider several factors when determining the amount of damages to award, including lost wages and benefits, loss of parental, marital and household services, the reasonable cost of providing for the care of minor children, reasonable funeral and burial expenses and mental anguish.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a car accident caused by someone who was under the influence, contact a Delaware car accident lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow. Our dedicated attorneys seek to hold responsible parties accountable for their negligent conduct and can help you recover the compensation you deserve. For over two decades, Rhoades & Morrow has successfully represented clients in car accident, personal injury, or wrongful death claims throughout Delaware, including those in Wilmington, Bear and Milford. Contact us online or call us at 302-427-9500 to schedule a free consultation.