If you are the victim of a North Carolina Car Accident that occurred at night, the chances that one of the drivers is under the influence of both legal and illegal drugs is increasing. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 16% of nighttime drivers were found to be under the influence of impairing drugs, both legal and illegal, and that half were high on marijuana. This is significantly higher than the daytime level.
With one-third of the states having laws legalizing marijuana (presumably for medical purposes), driving while stoned is a growing problem. There is no federal standard governing a permissible level of marijuana in the blood, and different state have either different standards for marijuana levels, or no standards at all. Further, scientists disagree on the level at which a person is impaired, and a regular medicinal marijuana user can have higher residual levels in their blood even days after their last drug use.
Compounding the problem is that short of a blood test, there is no definitive field test for marijuana. Technology for police officers to use a saliva swab is years away, and officers are left to rely on standard field tests for impairment.
Even the White House has acknowledged driving while high as a major factor in fatal accidents. The director of National Drug Control Policy in the White House calls marijuana a “significant and important contributing factor in a growing number of fatal accidents.” This appears to be true. In California, where medical marijuana use is legal, drug related fatal accidents increased 55% in a 10 year period.
Until a uniform standard for testing and a uniform level of illegality is adopted, law enforcement is left with using professional judgment to determine a drivers impairment.