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Drivers who use alcohol, weed take more risks

Girl holding beer and putting joint in ashtray at crazy party

Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a leading factor in many fatal car accidents in Washington State — and the situation hasn’t been helped by recreational marijuana legalization, according to a new study. In fact, DUI crashes now account for almost half of all traffic fatalities in the state.

A recent survey conducted by AAA found that people who use both alcohol and marijuana are some of the biggest risk-takers on Washington roadways. People driving drunk and on weed are more likely to speed, text, intentionally run red lights, and drive aggressively than those who don’t, AAA says.

Washington State Patrol, the Seattle Police, and other local departments have seen a lot more people driving on marijuana and alcohol since the state legalized recreational cannabis in 2012.

Now the most common drug involved in fatal car accidents isn’t one drug at all. “Poly-drug drivers” (people driving under the influence of a combination of multiple drugs and/or alcohol) are involved in about 40% of Washington fatal crashes.

The results of a biological Washington Roadside Survey found that nearly 1 out of 5 daytime drivers may be under the influence of marijuana.

Driving drunk and high

The AAA study compared people who drive on marijuana and alcohol with people who drive on alcohol only to determine whether mixing weed with booze changes behavior behind the wheel.

The self-reported study asked people in the two groups (as well as sober drivers) whether they had engaged in the following risky behaviors:

  • Speeding on residential streets - 55% of marijuana-alcohol influenced drivers confessed to speeding, compared to 35% of drunk drivers.
  • Aggressive driving - 52% of drivers on weed and booze admitted aggressive driving habits, compared to 28% of the alcohol-only influenced drivers.
  • International red-light running - 48% of weed-alcohol drivers and 32% of alcohol-only drivers acknowledged they ran a red light.
  • Texting while driving - 40% of drunk-high drivers and 21% of drunk drivers admitted to reading or sending a text while behind the wheel.

People who drive sober said they drove recklessly much less often. The risk sober drivers took most often was driving while drowsy.

Washington State leads the way

Accidents caused by drivers impaired by marijuana can be some of the most difficult to investigate. With recreational marijuana legalization being fairly new, there is still a lot of debate about how high is too high to drive. A 100% reliable way to detect the level of cannabis impairment has not yet been developed.

Washington is ahead of many states, however, when it comes to detecting marijuana consumption and setting limits.

Washington is one of a handful of states that has set a marijuana per se blood limit of 5 ng/ml. Our state is also one that trusts the Drug Recognition Expert program, which trains officers to recognize impairment from various drugs.

Tilt the odds in your favor with a car accident lawyer

If you were severely injured or a loved one died in a crash caused by a drunk driver, a high driver, or someone who was drunk and high at the same time, you have recourse under Washington State law to seek compensation for your damages.

While you may be entitled to compensation for your current and future medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, your pain and suffering, and other applicable damages, don't expect the insurance company for the at-fault driver to just hand over the money you deserve without a fight.

You can’t count on insurance companies to do the right thing because ultimately they have a financial incentive to pay you as little money as possible — if anything at all. That's why it's common for insurance adjusters to purposefully delay, dispute or straight-up deny valid injury claims. And if they do make you a settlement offer, insurance adjusters almost always lowball you in the beginning.

At Herschensohn Law Firm, PLLC in Kent, founding attorney Zach Herschensohn knows how to make insurance companies take claims involving impaired drivers seriously.

When the insurance companies try to reject or minimize payouts to people injured by drunk and high drivers, or other reckless people, our law firm hits them back with evidence-based arguments that are hard to ignore. Investigating impaired driving accidents can be complicated, but getting justice for victims of such reckless and preventable behavior is our passion.

Don't leave money on the table. Let a Kent car accident lawyer aggressively advocate for your best interests and fight for every dollar you deserve.

Contact us today for a free consultation. Our office is located in Kent and we proudly serve clients throughout the Seattle Metro area.

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