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With 115 drugged driving deaths last year, Colorado is seeing an increase in drug-related traffic deaths just as drunken driving fatalities are decreasing. Nearly half of all drug-related traffic deaths in Colorado involve marijuana, reports Denver's Channel 9 News, and the state legislature is now considering a bill that will “set the legal driving limit for marijuana in a driver’s system at 5 nanograms of THC per milligram of blood.”
This measure “gives law enforcement officers [and marijuana users] a bright line for you’re either over or under,” explains Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), a co-sponsor of the bill, but some find this limit too low. Sean McAllister, an attorney in favor of medical marijuana, counters, “We want the legislature to take real science into account. It's not fair to those people who use it as a medicine to set the level so low that they're always going to have that level of marijuana in their system.”
Channel 9’s full story on drugged driving and this new legislation can be watched here.
When confronted with stories and legislative measures like these, take care to ask prudent questions. What scientific evidence is there that finds 5 nanograms of THC per milligram of blood as causing impairment? What factors are considered in ruling a death "drug-related”? McAllister notes that “it doesn’t mean if there’s marijuana in your system that’s what caused the crash.” Indeed, according to the NHTSA, "a motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or pedalcyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher," or if the presence of drugs, legal or illegal, are found. Thus, any fatality that occurs in an alcohol/drug related crash is considered an alcohol/drug related fatality. The term "alcohol or drug related" does not indicate that a crash or fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol or drugs but rather that any person involved in the crash had drugs or alcohol in their system, including passengers, pedestrians, the driver not at fault, etc.
While no one condones or encourages drunk driving, drugged driving, or any other form of impaired driving, the state does have a responsibility to present sound, scientific evidence to support their legislative measures. As Mr. McAllister surmises, there could be many people who use marijuana for medicinal purposes who are unimpaired and innocent but will always be over the 5ng limit.
For more information about driving and traffic-related matters, please contact The Orr Law Firm. The Orr Law Firm, LLC is a leading Denver defense firm that specializes in handling DUI and criminal traffic matters. Our attorneys use their specific knowledge and training to defend your rights and protect your driving privileges. Visit us online or contact us today at (720) 279-9588.
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