Federal Statistics: Stoned Driving Far Safer Than Drunk Driving

It’s hard to look around and not notice that the tide is turning on this country’s acceptance of marijuana; 23 states and the District of Columbia have made marijuana legal for medical purposes, a testament to the public’s recognition of the drug’s real effects.
Now, our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers aren’t saying that people aren’t affected by marijuana — many people are. While critics of the drug might be telling the truth when they say that marijuana makes you hungrier, can give you red eyes and can perhaps make you sleepier, if they tell you that it makes you a dangerous driver, they’re by and large on the other side of the facts.

As discussed by the Washington Post, a new report just released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides data that demonstrate that drivers who use marijuana are at a much lower risk for a crash than are drivers who consume alcohol.

According to the released report, when it comes to driving, alcohol — a drug that is legal and consumed all over the country — is far more dangerous than any other drug, an inconvenient truth for those who argue that marijuana makes for dangerous driving in an effort to keep the drug illegal.

The statistics show that when compared to a sober driver, a driver who has used marijuana is of no statistically significant higher likelihood of getting into a car crash. Antidepressants and stimulants, meanwhile, actually make you somewhat less likely to get in a car crash than you’d be if you weren’t on any mind-altering substance, while painkillers and sedatives understandably increase your risk of a car crash, although ever so slightly.

The shock comes when comparing a driver who has used alcohol to a driver who has used marijuana (which is, per the statistics, roughly equivalent to a driver who has used no mind-altering substances, per the graph available here). Consuming alcohol makes you almost 600% more likely, or 7x more likely, to get into a car crash.

Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers know all too well that if marijuana made you 7x more likely to crash a car, that fact would be plastered all over television advertisements and yelled all over the airwaves by people trying to keep marijuana illegal. The fact is that the facts don’t support the claim these people would wish to espouse.

Granted, as we understand, no collection of statistics is 100% right, 100% of the time. For instance, the data collected on drug use while driving was based in large part on self-reported drug use in terms of quantity, speed, etc. With self-reporting, especially regarding substances attached to which is such stigma, there are always risks that the data may be skewed. However, the statistics paint such a clear picture in terms of the patent danger of driving drug as compared to the unnoticeable difference in driving while “high” on marijuana that it’s hard to ignore the conclusion, which is that driving while drunk makes you 7x more likely to crash a car than you’d be if you were sober — or stoned.

For now, marijuana remains illegal, and individuals continue to be arrested, prosecuted and jailed for possession or use of a substance that so much of the country has begun to accept. If you have been arrested for or charged with a marijuana crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact our skilled criminal defense lawyers by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363) to set up a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

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