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Legalized marijuana in California may mean more accidents

As many residents of Modesto probably know, our state recently passed a measure allowing adults to use marijuana legally under certain restrictions. To be clear, though, this change did not affect the prohibition on driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

No matter how one feels about this change generally, it is important to remember that it could raise some issues with respect to traffic safety. According to one study, many of the states that have permitted recreational marijuana use, like California, have experienced an unusual rise in the frequency of claims pertaining to car accidents. In some states, the increase topped 10 percent.

Moreover, a separate study noted that, in states where the drug is now legal under state law, more drivers who were involved in fatal accidents were found to have marijuana in their systems. In fairness, though, given how long marijuana can remain in the human body, not everyone who had marijuana in their system at the time of operating a vehicle was necessarily under the influence of the drug. In fact, one of the major problems law enforcement is facing is how to determine exactly when a person is driving under the influence of marijuana, as that can be a highly subjective judgment call.

The important thing for California motorists to remember, though, is that their fellow drivers have an obligation to drive sober. As is the case with alcohol, someone who is high on marijuana should designate a driver or find other transportation. If they fail to do so and cause an accident as a result, then they may owe compensation to their victims. A victim can pursue this compensation via a personal injury claim.

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