More people may face DUI charges over cannabis

| Dec 26, 2019 | DUI

A growing number of people in South Carolina and across the country report using cannabis recreationally, especially as a growing number of states and cities are moving towards decriminalization or legalization. This has sparked some concerns about an increase in driving while intoxicated although the science related to driving after cannabis use is limited and far less detailed than that related to alcohol use. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 20.5 million Americans admitted to driving while under the influence of alcohol while 12 million said they drove while high after consuming cannabis.

The numbers are based on a 2018 survey in which 8% said they drove drunk, 4.7% said they drove under the influence of cannabis, and .9% said they drove under the influence of another illegal drug. The CDC said that the survey results showed a sharp decline in drunk driving since the last time the study was conducted in 2017; the incidence of driving while under the influence of cannabis had risen although not enough to wipe out the drunk driving reduction. According to the survey, young people aged 21 to 25 were most likely to drive after consuming cannabis.

Attempts to limit driving after using marijuana have been less successful than campaigns against drunk driving, partially because the science is so weak. There is no roadside test similar to the Breathalyzer for cannabis intoxication. Similarly, there is little strong evidence linking marijuana use to clear driving problems at certain levels, again unlike alcohol.

In some cases, police and prosecutors wish to rely on blood tests that may not indicate recent use of cannabis in order to bring DUI charges. People accused of driving under the influence may consult with a DUI defense attorney about how best to defend themselves against these charges.