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Driving While High

Published July 24, 2019 by ADRAS & ALTIG, Attorneys at Law
image of marijuana laying beside car keys

Millions of Americans are Driving While High and Don’t Think They Can be Arrested

Could the legalization of marijuana in Nevada and some other states be altering the perception about what constitutes driving while illegally impaired?

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says millions of Americans are driving after smoking marijuana and nearly 70 percent think it is unlikely that a driver will get arrested by police for driving while under the influence of marijuana.

“Drivers have a disconnect in terms of the impairing effects of marijuana on their safe driving ability,” Tamra Johnson, a AAA spokesperson, told NBC Los Angeles. “You’re not only endangering yourself, but you’re also endangering other drivers on the road.”

Apparently, drivers also have a disconnect in terms of what Nevada impaired driving laws say about driving while impaired. You can get arrested in Las Vegas for driving while high on weed.

An arrest for DUID – driving under the influence of drugs – typically follows a traffic stop for suspected impaired driving and the detection of nearly any amount of marijuana in your blood. If you are facing charges of driving while high, talk to Adras & Altig criminal defense lawyers in Las Vegas.

New Reporting on Driving While High

The AAA Traffic Foundation report is part of its annual survey about American drivers’ attitudes and behaviors. The 2018 survey released in June examines how drivers feel about distracted driving, risky and aggressive driving, and drowsy driving.

AAA chose to publicize the report by announcing the finding that an estimated 14.8 million Americans reported driving within one hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days.

AAA says:

  • The impairing effects of marijuana are usually experienced within the first one to four hours after using the drug.
  • Marijuana users who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash.

The survey data are from a sample of 2,582 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days.

The survey says:

  • 70 percent of respondents consider driving shortly after (within an hour of) using marijuana to be very or extremely dangerous.
  • 7.4 percent of drivers personally approve of driving shortly after using marijuana. Drivers ages 19-24 (16.1 percent) and 25-39 (10.1 percent) are most likely to say it’s acceptable to drive shortly after using marijuana.
  • 9 percent of respondents thought someone driving shortly after using marijuana would be somewhat or very likely to be caught by police.
  • 3 percent of respondents said driving after using potentially impairing prescription drugs is very or extremely dangerous.
  • 6 percent of respondents reported driving after using potentially impairing prescription drugs in the last 30 days.
  • 4 percent of drivers thought that someone driving after using potentially impairing prescription drugs would be somewhat or very likely to be caught by police.

Getting High May Be Legal But Driving High is Still Dangerous

Nevada is one of 11 states, plus Washington D.C., to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Nevada law permits anyone 21 years old or older to purchase, possess and consume marijuana for recreational use. The law allows the use of marijuana on private property such as private residences. It is not legal to smoke or ingest marijuana while in a car or in a public place.

Safety experts continue to warn that driving while under the influence of marijuana is dangerous.

A 2017 report to Congress about marijuana-impaired driving says there is clear evidence that an increasing number of people are using marijuana and there is increased use of marijuana by drivers. Studies showed a 48 percent increase in the prevalence of drivers testing positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, from 2007 to 2014.

The report’s authors cite evidence that marijuana use impairs cognitive functions and motor skills. The authors estimated that the increased risk of a crash while driving after using marijuana is as high as 1.92 to 2.66 times the risk without marijuana use. However, a large study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found no significant increased crash risk attributable to cannabis after controlling for drivers’ age, gender, race and presence of alcohol.

NHTSA says that you cannot drive safely if you are under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, opioids, methamphetamines or any potentially impairing drug. Driving while high puts you and others in harm’s way.

Nevada Marijuana Laws Make Driving While High Illegal

There’s a mistaken belief, particularly among Las Vegas tourists, that Nevada has totally legalized the use of marijuana. In fact, Nevada law restricts the use of marijuana to adults in private residences.

It is illegal to consume marijuana in any form (smoking, edibles, capsules) in public in Nevada, including in public areas of Las Vegas casinos or in casino hotel rooms.

It is also against the law to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol in Nevada.

If you are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, Las Vegas police have the right to test your blood or urine for the presence of marijuana. Under the law, you are guilty per se (based on the evidence “by itself”) if tests show even a tiny amount:

You can be charged with joint possession of marijuana, which refers to marijuana being found in the presence of multiple people who are somehow linked together. If police find pot in a car in Nevada, everyone in the vehicle could initially be charged with possession. If you find yourself In this situation and facing criminal charges, you need a skilled Las Vegas drugged driving defense lawyer to protect your rights.

If you were driving under the influence of a prescription or over-the-counter medication, the issue becomes whether the substance impaired your driving ability. In the end, prosecutors will have to prove their case for you to be convicted.

Contact a Las Vegas Defense Attorney About Drugged Driving Charges

Being convicted of DUID can adversely affect your life for years to come. If you or your loved one has been charged with a drug DUI in Las Vegas, you should take the charges seriously and act now. Contact the reputable and respected defense attorneys at Adras & Altig to discuss your legal options and learn how we can help you.

An arrest is not a conviction. Every case is unique. Our attorneys may be able to negotiate an agreement with the prosecutor to have the charges reduced and dismissed. Contact us as soon as possible for a review of your case.

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