Everyone knows that driving while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, but what about being under the influence of medical marijuana? Studies have shown that driving while high significantly increases the risk of getting into a car accident.
But how can it be illegal to drive while high if you use marijuana legally for medical reasons? Being under the influence of any controlled substance while driving is illegal regardless of whether the substance was obtained legally. The dangers of distracted driving and drunk driving are widely known, but not everyone knows the risks caused by driving while high.
Effects of Driving While Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana
Driving while under the influence of medical marijuana makes you twice as likely to get into a car accident as a sober person. The effects are most dangerous when driving within a few hours of smoking. Even though alcohol is the number one accident causing substance, 6.8 percent of drivers involved in reported accidents had marijuana in their system.
Driving within a few hours of using medical marijuana increases your risk of getting into a car accident because of several negative effects.
- Impaired judgment
- Slowed reaction time
- Weakened spatial perception
Driving with these impaired abilities puts drivers at risk for following the car in front of them too closely and not being able to break fast enough. Impaired judgment could also cause a driver to make dangerous turns or misjudge situations. These kinds of mistakes can lead to car accidents or traffic accidents involving bicycles. This puts lives in danger and opens the driver up to liability. Driving under the influence of any substance that impairs judgment and driving capabilities should be taken seriously and avoided at all costs.
Illinois State Law Prohibits Driving While Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana
Many states are training police officers to spot driving patterns that signal marijuana intoxication. In Illinois, medical marijuana is legal for registered users, but driving under its influence is not.
The law currently states that driving with any trace amount of marijuana in the system is illegal, but activists and representatives have pushed for legislation to alter this law. Under the current standard, motorists would be breaking the law if they used medical marijuana a month ago and still had trace amounts in their system. Now that medical marijuana has been legalized in Illinois, the standard may need to be altered to protect peoples’ rights.
How to Prevent Driving Under the Influence When Using Medical Marijuana
The dangers of driving while under the influence of medical marijuana are real, but those people with conditions treated by marijuana still need to drive. To prevent being influenced by the effects of marijuana while driving, people need to wait at least 4 hours after use to drive. If waiting is not possible, then be sure to designate a sober driver or call a cab to safely get you where you need to be.