Injured by a Connecticut Driver Under the Influence of Marijuana? We Can Help
State law clearly says that drugged driving is a type of driving under the influence, and drivers who cause a crash while high are subject to the same penalties as drivers who cause crashes while under the influence of alcohol.
Though medical marijuana has been legal in Connecticut since 2012, recreational marijuana use has only been permitted for a short period. The state legislature legalized the drug for recreational use in 2021, and retail marijuana sales started earlier this year.
This decision has ramifications for personal injury claims following a motor vehicle accident. Now that recreational marijuana possession, use, and sales are legal in Connecticut, police departments have expressed their concern that there might be an increase in impaired driving in the state. This, in turn, could lead to more crashes caused by drivers under the influence of marijuana.
State law clearly says that drugged driving is a type of driving under the influence, and drivers who cause a crash while high are subject to the same penalties as drivers who cause crashes while under the influence of alcohol. If you have been involved in a crash where marijuana was a factor, the skilled attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers can get you the settlement or verdict you deserve.
Marijuana’s effect on drivers
Marijuana use affects a driver’s cognitive functions, making it more difficult for them to operate a motor vehicle. The drug can impair a driver’s motor function, reaction time, tracking ability, and peripheral vision; it can also impede their decision-making abilities, judgment, and impulse control.
In short, marijuana makes a driver less capable of the complex process of operating a motor vehicle, less able to respond to road conditions, and more likely to make poor decisions or lose focus on driving. All of these factors increase the chances of a driver under the influence of marijuana being involved in an accident — especially if they have been using the drug together with other intoxicants such as alcohol.
Unfortunately, while the negative effects of alcohol use on driving ability are well-known and publicized, drivers are generally less aware of the impairment caused by marijuana. This is worsened by a common misconception that it’s safe to drive after using marijuana (or at least not as dangerous as driving drunk); some drivers even mistakenly believe their driving ability is improved when they’re high.
Connecticut’s DUI law
Connecticut’s law regarding driving under the influence is not limited to alcohol. The law states that a DUI offense is committed when driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or both. This could be alcohol, marijuana, or cold medicine.
This means that drivers who operate a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana are subject to the same criminal penalties as those who drive drunk, including the possibility of a license suspension, fines, or jail. They are also subject to liability in civil court, mainly through personal injury lawsuits.
Proving that a driver was under the influence of marijuana at the time of an accident is more challenging than proving that they were under the influence of alcohol. While a blood-alcohol test provides a relatively simple and reliable way to determine if a driver is impaired at the time of operation, there is no comparable test to determine if a driver is impaired by marijuana.
The effects of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, vary considerably from person to person. Someone with low levels of THC may be considerably impaired, while someone with high levels may show minimal signs of impairment. And since THC lingers in the bloodstream, someone can test positive for the compound well after any intoxicating effects have worn off. In sum, there is really no scientific method to connect the amount of THC in a driver’s bloodstream to impaired driving. Therefore, other factors must be investigated and preserved at the time of the crash.
The police report may include observations suggesting that the driver appeared to be high shortly after the crash, such as red eyes and sleepiness. Other witnesses may be able to show that the driver exhibited poor judgment consistent with being under the influence of marijuana. Physical evidence can also point to the effects of marijuana impairment, such as shorter skid marks indicating a slow reaction time.
The presence of marijuana in another driver’s vehicle doesn’t necessarily indicate that they were high at the time of the crash, since Connecticut law permits the possession and transportation of marijuana in a vehicle. However, marijuana can only be kept in the glove compartment or trunk when in a vehicle; if it was found in a more accessible location, this could help establish that they were using the drug during or shortly before the accident.
The consequences of a DUI accident
Just like a crash caused by a drunk driver, an accident caused by marijuana impairment can have serious consequences — including the possibility of wrongful death.
If you are injured by a driver who was under the influence of marijuana, we can help ensure that you receive compensation proportional to your losses. We work with medical professionals and economists to help quantify the financial impact of the accident on your life, including medical expenses, lost wages, and diminished quality of life.
If you or a loved one were involved in an accident you believe was caused by a driver operating under the influence, contact the attorneys at Anderson Trial Lawyers for a free consultation. Call us at 860-886-8845 or contact us online.