Marijuana Versus Alcohol Effects on Driving

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Driving while intoxicated is scientifically proven to be dangerous. This is why a number of methods are used to measure a driver's level of intoxication. Breathalyzer tests and blood alcohol content calculators have been created for the purpose of understanding hazardous alcohol levels and enforcing laws against alleged offenders.

Unfortunately, alcohol isn't the only substance that causes impairment on the road, and the same kind of information isn't available yet for the effect of marijuana on driving. At this time there are still limitations in the technology of determining when drug amounts can damage an individual's driving judgment, although, like alcohol, it's safe to assume that even a small amount can affect a driver.

So more research is needed to find out exactly how marijuana may impact a driver's ability to react during complex and often unpredictable circumstances. But there are certain facts we do know:

  • Marijuana can affect a driver's attentiveness in a negative way.
  • Marijuana can also distort a driver's sense of time and his or her perception of speed on the road.
  • Studies have revealed that many drivers who test positive for alcohol may also have marijuana in their system as well, which shows drinking and drug usage can often be linked behaviors.
  • When marijuana use is combined with alcohol, the impairment can significantly increase.

Drunk Driving Compared to High Driving

When a person is driving drunk, there are particular behaviors that are typically exhibited. Decreased inhibitions, aggressiveness and a lack of attention, common effects of alcohol, can lead to frequent lane changes, excess speed and swerving on the road, depending on the driver.

The effect of marijuana is often thought to be the opposite on behavior behind the wheel. People who smoke marijuana tend to exhibit paranoia, and therefore are thought be more careful in their actions. And because marijuana distorts perception, time seems to pass much slower, therefore, causing these individuals to drive with more caution, or so the thinking goes.

However, a scientific studies that marijuana can be just as dangerous as alcohol when combined with driving, even if the effects on drivers are not completely the same.

In a study done at Ben Gurion University in Israel, people who had smoked marijuana were put in a simulator to test their driving ability. Researchers discovered that while these people drove slower, they were still prone to potentially deadly accidents due to possible hallucinations and memory loss.

So alcohol and marijuana can each influence a driver’s judgment in different, but still dangerous ways.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol

While the science is still debatable, all states have put laws in place that make driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs as serious as driving under the influence of alcohol.

However, because the methods of proving intoxication vary, it may be more difficult for the police to build a case around driving under the influence of drugs, particularly if no drugs were found during the arrest.

If you are facing DUI charges, you can get help from a DUI lawyer in your area. Arrange a free, no-obligation consultation and learn how to protect your rights.

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