Massachusetts is one of the most recent states in the country to legalize Marijuana for recreational purposes, but with this new freedom for citizens comes more responsibility. What most individuals may not realize is that they can get a DUI charge for driving while under the influence of marijuana. State laws punish marijuana-impaired drivers with the same penalties that they punish alcohol-impaired drivers.
Marijuana can slow reaction time, alter decision making, and impair both coordination and perception of drivers behind the wheel. When you drive in an altered state, you pose a threat to both yourself and other drivers on the road. A Boston wrongful death lawyer says, “We may see more wrongful death lawsuits coming through our doors now that marijuana has been legalized for recreational use. People must realize that impairment is both illegal and dangerous when driving, regardless of the substance.”
How Marijuana-Impaired Drivers are Identified
Police officers keep an eye out for marijuana-impaired drivers on the road in the same way they keep an eye out for drunk drivers. A marijuana-impaired driver may be weaving between lanes, driving faster or slower than the speed limit, or behaving abnormally on the road in some other way. While there’s no breathalyzer equivalent that tests for marijuana on site when a police officer pulls a driver over, officers can perform similar field sobriety tests.
Field sobriety tests for marijuana impairment may include testing balance, reflexes, and basic awareness. While there’s an implied consent law for drunk driving which forces drivers to lose their license if they refuse a breathalyzer, there’s no such rule in place for marijuana-impaired driving. However, the implied consent rule may be expanded to marijuana-impaired drivers in the future if drivers refuse to be tested by a drug recognition expert on the scene.
Future Plans for Massachusetts and Beyond
As more states begin to legalize marijuana for recreational use, there will need to be more strict policies in place for marijuana-impaired driving. Unfortunately, most people don’t see marijuana as an equivalent to alcohol when it comes to getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. Hopefully, with stricter laws and penalties in place for driving under the influence of marijuana, individuals will become more grateful for the legalization that’s been granted and they’ll respect the safety of others on the road.
We can only hope that both law enforcement and the citizens of the United States can work together to keep our roads marijuana-free and as safe as possible.