More people in Virginia and across the United States are being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) due to marijuana rather than alcohol. Between 2007 and 2014, the number of drivers accused of operating vehicles under the influence of pot increased by 50 percent.
On the other hand, between 1973 and 2014, the number of drivers accused of using alcohol while driving declined by 77 percent. Driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana can have significantly different effects. Unlike alcohol, marijuana is not usually linked to reckless or speedy driving. However, it can lengthen reaction times and make it difficult for drivers to respond quickly to events.
Tests used on drivers included saliva and blood tests. Of those tested, over 22 percent of drivers in the day and 23 percent of drivers in the night were considered to test positive for a drug of some type. Marijuana was the most frequently encountered drug.
The report is based on information from the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It was gathered through national studies that gathered breath samples to look at rates of alcohol intoxication. The studies do not directly reflect potential results of the growing trend towards marijuana legalization. Much of the data was collected prior to legalization or in states where pot use remains criminalized.
People who have been accused of driving while impaired could seek a criminal defense lawyer to represent them in court or to arrange a settlement with prosecutors. Even a first offense DUI charge can have significant impact on a person's life, including consequences at work or potential license suspension.