As laws change regarding cannabis across the country, determining liability for car accidents involving motorists under the influence of cannabis can be complicated. Along with 10 other states, the state of Connecticut has legalized medical marijuana while also decriminalizing recreational cannabis. Individuals found in possession of one-half ounce or less of plant material, hash, or concentrate could face a civil penalty of $150 to $500 for first and second offenses, but will not face criminal punishment. However, just because cannabis has been decriminalized doesn’t absolve motorists of responsibility if they choose to operate a motor vehicle under the influence.
Connecticut’s DUI laws have traditionally pertained to alcohol, but they also mention illegal drugs. And while decriminalization doesn’t make recreational possession and use legal, it does reduce the charges to common civil infractions similar to speeding or running a stop sign. That being said, operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana is not decriminalized and can land reckless motorists in jail. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident with a motorist suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana, you may also be able to take legal action and hold them responsible for your injuries.
Signs of Drugged Drivers
Similar to alcohol, the effects and level of impairment caused by cannabis depend on a number of factors such as the THC concentration of the substance, the amount ingested, a person’s frequency of use, and biological makeup. Unlike alcohol, testing a driver for marijuana is a complicated and difficult process.
To test a driver’s blood-alcohol level, police officers can administer a breathalyzer or blood test on the scene. Marijuana, on the other hand, can’t be detected by a breathalyzer, and urine or blood tests can be unreliable. Whereas alcohol passes through the body in a matter of hours, cannabis is stored in the body’s fat cells and can show up in drug tests days or even weeks after use. Because of this, police officers are largely responsible for detecting impaired drivers. Some common signs of a driver under the influence of marijuana include the following:
- The odor of cannabis
- Paraphernalia on the driver or inside the vehicle
- Red eyes
- Decreased or delayed reaction time
- Problems with hand-eye coordination
- Inability to concentrate
- Trouble with short term memory
Under Connecticut law, drivers under the influence of marijuana can face a number of penalties including up to six months in jail, $500 to $1,000 in fines, and a 45-day license suspension. But for drivers under the influence of marijuana that cause an accident, the consequences can be much more severe and are both criminal and civil in nature.
If you’ve been hit by a driver who was under the influence of cannabis, you have the right to seek full and fair compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered and damage to your personal property. Be sure to contact an experienced injury attorney who understands how to handle cases involving a driver who was under the influence and driving negligently. Call Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers at (203) 397-1283 to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your rights today.