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Seattle TV station tests stoned drivers and their ability to drive at higher levels of THC

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Feb 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

As the debate rages on regarding how high is too high to drive, Washington TV station KIRO took it upon itself and tested the effects of pot on driving.

In a segment that aired last week, the TV station gathered a group of volunteers and had them smoke pot while unleashing them on a closed driving course, reports the Huffington Post.

While the results were amusing, there were not too many hard and fast rules to be gleaned from the study.

The volunteers smoked a strain of marijuana called "blueberry train wreck" and then took on the driving course. To ensure safety, a driving instructor was in the car with the stoned driver and had ready access to a brake pedal. Police officers also stood on the sidelines and looked for signs of driving under the influence of pot.

First up, a regular smoker of marijuana who tested above three times the legal limit drove without much of a problem. Two casual smokers were also able to make it through the course without incident, though they tested below the legal limit.

Later on, the testers had the volunteers smoke even more pot, and they were still able to drive fine for the most part. One driver tested at 37 nanograms of THC (more than seven times the legal limit), while the other drivers were four and three times the legal limit. Police officers observing the course said that all three drivers drove okay though some did exhibit patterns of impairment.

Again, the testers had the volunteers smoke even more pot and now the drivers exhibited significant impairment. One driver nearly took out a cameraman and had trouble staying on the course.

So what is the takeaway from the study? First and foremost, people who use marijuana need to exercise extreme caution before getting behind the wheel.  Clearly, a regular user might feel completely normal after using several hours earlier but they have over 5 nanaograms of THC in their system.

Should the legal limit for marijuana in one's system be increased to 15 THC or even 20 THC?  A study of three volunteers is hardly representative, but I have always been concerned about the current legal limit.

Please remember, it was not lawmakers or judges who set the limit after years of studies.  It was Washington voters when they passed initiative 502 in November legalizing marijuana, they also created a  "per se" legal limit of five nanograms of THC. Anything above that you are legally impaired under the DUI statute.

If you have a question about drugged driving or driving under the influence of marijuana, you should talk to an experienced DUI attorney. The attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense are experienced DUI attorneys who have stayed on top of the new and changing drugged driving laws. They have also represented several marijuana DUI cases over the decade they have focused on DUI defense.  Call us at 425-284-2000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 16 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.

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