Puff, Puff, Pass The Breathalyzer? Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana

Since 2012, eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. However, laws around driving under the influence of marijuana are still blurry.

Puff, Puff, Pass The Breathalyzer? Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana

Our county has seen a shift in legislation and overall public opinion when it comes to cannabis use. Although the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers marijuana a Schedule I drug, many states are increasingly taking steps to legalize the use of medical and/or recreational marijuana.

Right now, eight states (and D.C.) have legalized the use of recreational marijuana for persons over the age of 21:

  • Colorado (enacted in 2012)
  • Washington (enacted in 2012)
  • Alaska (enacted in 2014)
  • Oregon (enacted in 2014)
  • Washington D.C. (enacted in 2014)
  • California (enacted in 2016)
  • Maine (enacted in 2016)
  • Massachusetts (enacted in 2016)
  • Nevada (enacted in 2016)

Driving high in each of these states is illegal, but determining whether or not the driver is truly under the influence isn’t as easy as having them say the alphabet backwards or walk in a straight line.

According to Margaret Haney, a neurobiology at Columbia University, it’s difficult to document drugged driving in a relevant way. She says, “THC is fat soluble. That makes it absorb in a very different way and much more difficult to relate behavior to, say, [blood] levels of THC or develop a breathalyzer."

Whether or not driving under the influence is dangerous is commonly disputed, and the answer you get will depend on who you ask. While there are many groups that advocate for avoiding marijuana all together, there are organizations that say the drug may actually make you a better driver.

The folks at Joint Bloggers said "More research is needed, but it’s hard to deny that of the research we have, marijuana hasn’t been found to increase a person’s risk of an accident," and linked to several studies backing the claim.

How Often Do People Drive High?

We surveyed 600 residents in these nine places, asking if they smoke or consume marijuana and if they do, do they feel comfortable getting behind a steering wheel?

Of the respondents who said they do use the drug, 39% feel comfortable getting in the driver’s seat within two hours of smoking or consuming marijuana. Of those same respondents, 42% do not feel comfortable driving, and 19% said it varies depending on the particular instance.

So this poses the question: What are the exact laws for doped driving? What happens if a driver gets pulled over and the police go to the extent of finding marijuana in the vehicle or in the driver’s bloodstream? How much will it cost? Is there jail time?

It varies from state to state, and we are here to break it down for you.

California and Drugged Driving

See more "Driving High" facts for the following states:

Washington D.C.


The Instamotor TeamThe Instamotor Team

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