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Drugged driving, medical marijuana and car accidents


We all know that drunk driving is a huge problem across our country. Yet, drugged driving is becoming prevalent, too. Motorists who are under the influence of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, marijuana and other narcotics can be dangerous when behind the wheel. These drugs' effects can seriously impair a driver's abilities by slowing reaction time, limiting attention, altering depth perception and curtailing one's ability to maintain his or her lane. When a motorist is under the influence of drugs, he or she can cause a car accident that causes serious injuries and death.

In an attempt to stop drugged driving, the Illinois General Assembly has enacted laws that make it illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs. However, there are a few issues with these laws. First, it can be difficult to prove that an individual is under the influence of drugs. Whereas a drunk driver may be subjected to a breathalyzer test or field sobriety tests, drugs may only be detected after a blood sample is taken. Second, Illinois law carves out an exception for individuals who are licensed to use marijuana under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act.

This means that those who have tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their system are still legally allowed to drive, so long as they are not impaired by the drug. This differs from other drugs, where the mere presence of a narcotic is enough to break the law, regardless of a showing that he or she was impaired.

So what does this mean for Illinois motorists? It means that those who are injured in a car accident caused by a drugged driver need to work harder to prove that the driver was impaired, and that his or her impairment caused the accident in question and the resulting injuries. In these types of situations, a proper investigation to determine who was at fault and why is of the utmost importance. Seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney can help victims of such accidents move forward with a solid legal plan of action.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "Chapter 95," accessed on Oct. 2, 2016

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