Marijuana holiday could be linked to increased driver deaths

Feb 16, 2018 | drunk driving

In Ohio and across the United States, there has been a significant amount of attention dedicated to drunk driving and operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. This is reflected in the known spike in car accidents and fatal crashes that take place each year on New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday, two occasions well-known for large amounts of alcohol consumption. However, other holidays could also have an impact on safe driving. As marijuana is legalized for recreational and medical usage in an increasing number of states, more attention is being paid to the influence of cannabis consumption on driving. A recent study posits that April 20, marked as a holiday by marijuana users for years, is linked to an increase in deadly crashes.

Researchers examined 25 years of federal data about car accidents, counting the number of deadly crashes that took place each year on April 20. They compared the number of driver fatalities each year on April 20 with those one week before and one week after the date. There was no data about the potential involvement of marijuana in the crashes.

The results showed a slight increase in the number of driver deaths each year on April 20 in most states; the researchers estimated this to be a 12 percent overall risk increase or approximately 142 additional deaths linked to the holiday. Cannabis intoxication can limit a driver’s reaction time and ability to respond swiftly in emergency situations.

In Ohio, even a first-time drunk driving charge can bring with it a costly fine, the loss of one’s driver’s license or even jail time. People who are facing OVI or DUI charges may work with a criminal defense attorney to present a strong defense to the charges against them. A lawyer might work to challenge evidence in the courtroom or seek to reduce the charges facing their client.