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Does Marijuana Legalization Cause a Rise in Auto Accidents?

Picture of Cigarette

Legalization of Marijuana

While Tennessee has yet to legalize the use of marijuana as of September 2019, such a move is not too far off. Even in Memphis, TN, we have seen a drastic decrease in criminal charges filed against those possessing marijuana. Currently, medical marijuana is available in 33 states across America, while 10 states have completely decriminalized marijuana, making it completely legal. Law enforcement and legal experts across the country have been closely monitoring these states to see if there was an increase in auto accidents following the legalization of marijuana.

Has There Been an Increase in Traffic Accidents Following Legalization?

While it is still too early to know for sure, it appears there was an increase in accidents following legalizations. According to a report published in February 2019 by The Verge, following marijuana legalization, traffic accidents rose and then fell back to normal rates in the years after.

According to The Verge’s article, there are several factors that may have led to an increase in traffic accidents, including:

  • A spike in marijuana use by people who had not previously used the drug. Inexperienced users tend to be more careless with recreational use.
  • An increase of people mixing marijuana and alcohol, providing a greater chance of severely impaired drivers.

A consumer reports article from October 2018 reveals that there was a 6% increase in motor vehicle accidents is states that have legalized marijuana. An article in Forbes magazine from October 2018 outlines the issues states are struggling with regarding marijuana legalization and traffic safety ramifications.

The Future of DUI Law

One thing that is probably not debatable is that the number of impaired drivers on the road increases following the legalization of marijuana. As we mentioned in a previous post from June 2017, the future of DUI law will be greatly shaped by the presence of a marijuana breathalyzer. Currently, the only way to detect marijuana use following an accident or DUI stop is by performing a blood draw. Rest assured, a marijuana breathalyzer is on the horizon.

As with any new law, there are arguments for and against marijuana legalization. Legalization will be up to Tennessee Legislature and voters to determine in the future. In the meantime, as always, our best advise is to avoid driving under the influence at all times. The one mistake you make may haunt you for the rest of your life.

Call the Chiozza Law Firm

For decades, the Chiozza Law Firm has been honored to assist individuals in Memphis and the Mid-South area with all their legal needs. If you have a medical malpractice claim, suffered a personal injury, were arrested in Memphis, or were merely given a speeding ticket in Shelby County, we are always here to help.   

We are confident that if you give us a call at 901-526-9494 to discuss your potential claim, you will like what we have to say. You will be treated with the utmost attention and respect, just like a family member.



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This Blog/Website is made available by the Lawyer or Law Firm Publisher for educational purposes only, as well as to give you information and a general understanding of the law. It is not to provide you with specific legal advice. By reading this blog, you understand there is no attorney/client relationship between you and the Blog/Website Publisher. The Blog/Website should not be used a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Posted by Brian Chiozza at 1:01 PM
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