By now, most adults in Orange County are probably aware that on Nov. 8, voters in California passed Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use. While the full effects of this in the years to come may be uncertain, some people are concerned about what this could mean when it comes to auto accidents. State legislator Tom Lackey has those concerns, and is now trying to pass a law that would allow police officers to use roadside machines to test whether drivers are under the influence of marijuana.
After proposing the new bill, Lackey released a statement emphasizing the need to use technology to help find drivers who are impaired by marijuana. The bill would enable officers to take a sample of a driver's saliva, and then test it for various drugs including marijuana. Although the bill has support from the California Police Chiefs Association, lawmakers failed to pass a similar bill last year. But, that bill predated the passage of Proposition 64.
Similarly to alcohol, drugs like marijuana can affect a person's ability to drive. Thus, in addition to Lackey's proposal, the California Highway Patrol is also trying to come up with methods to detect people who are driving while impaired by marijuana.
When a person gets behind the wheel while impaired by a substance, he or she increases the risks of causing accidents. This is true regardless of whether the substance is alcohol, marijuana or some other drug. People who are injured in such accidents, or family members of fatal car accident victims, can use evidence of another driver's impairment as proof of negligence. This could help victims or their families recover medical expenses and other accident-related damages.
As a result of Proposition 64, recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Orange County and everywhere else in California. However, this does not give people a license to act irresponsibly and endanger others by driving while impaired.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Proposal to allow roadside testing for marijuana use is revived," Patrick McGreevy, Dec. 5, 2016