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Is drugged driving different than drunk driving?

Is impaired driving better or worse with the use of drugs? In particular, with many states looking to make cannabis legal, will driving under the influence of this drug make the already dangerous roads even worse?

Drunk drivers, according to research, account for or are involved in 25 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. Many drivers who are in accidents also test positive for using marijuana. Unlike alcohol, though, cannabis doesn't affect all people in the same way. In fact, the different absorption levels and smoking technique do matter, which is why someone who tests positive for the drug may not be accused of driving under the influence following a full investigation.

For someone who is hurt in an accident with a driver who was under the influence of cannabis, this can be a sharp blow. Should those who are caught taking drugs be held as accountable as those who are drunk? The short answer is yes, because even though those drivers are impaired in different ways than if they had alcohol in their systems, they still caused your accident.

What does cannabis do differently? According to a study, marijuana has an effect on unconscious and automatic driving functions, while those that require conscious control may not be as affected. Alcohol, on the other hand, impairs a person in the opposite way, making conscious decision-making more difficult.

Combined, drivers are much more dangerous than if the drug or alcohol is consumed separately. These facts can be used in your case; your attorney can point out the choices the driver made before the fatal accident you now have to work through.

Source: US National Library of Medicine for the National Institutes of Health, "The Effect of Cannabis Compared With Alcohol on Driving," R. Andrew Sewell, MD, James Poling, PhD, and Mehmet Sofuoglu, MD PhD, accessed Oct. 15, 2015

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