The Dangers of Driving While High
Georgia has seen an increase in the number of people who have been arrested for driving while high in recent years. The number of drivers charged with driving under the influence after being suspected of being high behind the wheel is up 20 percent in the past five years. Many states who are seeing this increase are turning to states like Colorado where marijuana has been legalized to see how officers are keeping the streets safe.
Officers say that it is difficult to determine just how under the influence of marijuana someone is. Officers often rely on drivers themselves to speak up about being high. This is far from ideal, and law enforcement officials around the country are trying to determine a better way to tell how high a driver may be. Until then, what is known is how marijuana can affect a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely.
1. Slowed Reaction Time
The part of the brain that controls coordination, balance and body movement is affected by marijuana. The drug can also impair memory and judgment. Studies have also shown that driving while high on marijuana compromises one’s ability to utilize prior driving experience to avoid accidents.
2. Risk-Taking Behavior
Even a small amount of marijuana can affect the way that a person behaves. Research has shown that those with the smallest amounts of THC in their systems (the active compound in marijuana that gets users high) may drive in an overly-cautious manner. However, those with higher amounts are more likely to take risks that they wouldn’t otherwise. The higher the doses of marijuana in a system, the more likely an impairment to safe driving.
3. The First Hour
The effects of marijuana on a person’s system are at the highest in the first hour after use. The effects of THC subside after 2 to 3 hours, but it still may be unsafe for the driver to operate their vehicle. It’s also important to note that people metabolize marijuana at different rates.
4. Alcohol and Marijuana
Most Americans believe that driving while high on marijuana is relatively safe. In a recent Gallup poll, only 29 percent of respondents stated that they believed driving while high was dangerous. That is in contrast to the 79 percent who said driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous. Studies have shown that both activities are dangerous, but that combining alcohol and marijuana is an even bigger risk.
Driving while high can be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol. It is also considered a crime. You can be arrested for driving under the influence if it is THC that is in your system. The possible penalties are no different for a person deemed to be driving under the influence of marijuana as for a person convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol. In addition, because marijuana use is illegal in Georgia, you could also be charged with a drug crime.
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Atlanta or the surrounding area, you need an experienced attorney like Hawkins Spizman Fortas on your side. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We are here for you and will fight to ensure you are treated fairly in a court of law.