Teens More Likely to Drive Stoned than Drunk

Study Shows Teens More Likely to Drive Stoned than Drunk

Girl in traffic stopA recent study at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found a greater likelihood that teens would drive stoned or ride in a vehicle with a person under the influence of drugs than a vehicle being operated under the influence of alcohol.

More than half of the males in the study, all college freshmen, said that they had been passengers in a vehicle driven by someone who has used marijuana before or while driving. About one-third of the female students had a similar experience. Almost half (44%) of the boys said they had driven while under the influence of marijuana. Only about one in ten girls had driven while stoned.

The high percentage of teen drivers operating vehicles while high poses problems for law enforcement officers. There is currently no field test, similar to the breathalyzer for alcohol, to establish that a driver is under the influence of pot. Police typically conduct field sobriety tests, such as making the person walk a straight line or touch their hands to nose or ears, but statistics show that drunk drivers are three times as likely to fail a field sobriety test as a stoned driver. Authorities say research is underway to more accurately detect the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but it’s likely to be a few years before accurate and dependable field detection products are available.

Authorities point to dramatically increased rates of traffic fatalities since the legalization of marijuana. In Colorado, which legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 2000 and legalized its general use in 2012, deaths related to DUIs have more than doubled since 2000. The state has responded with public serviced ads, reminding citizens that, while possession of marijuana may be legal, driving under its influence is still not.

Contact Aronberg, Kouser, Snyder & Lindemann, P. A., Attorneys at Law

At Aronberg, Kouser, Snyder & Lindemann, P. A., we have more than 35 years of experience helping people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Contact us by e-mail or call our office at 856-429-1700. Your initial consultation is free.

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