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Will drugged driving lead to more fatal accidents in Missouri?

Although drug laws have been evolving and changing throughout the country lately, marijuana remains illegal in Missouri. The effects of the legalization of marijuana have still yet to be seen, especially any potential effects on public safety.

Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health recently published a study on drugged driving and fatal car accidents. The study found that fatal car accidents in which marijuana was involved have tripled over the last ten years. In 2010, drugged driving accounted for 28 percent of traffic deaths, an increase of 16 percent from 1999. Based on the findings, 1 in 9 drivers involved in fatal car crashes would test positive for marijuana. The study looked at over 23,500 drivers who died in car crashes from 1999 to 2010. The combination of alcohol and drugs creates even more of a risk. A driver who is both drunk and high is 24 times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than a sober driver.

Even the most careful drivers can find themselves involved in an auto accident when others choose to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A negligent drugged driver can be held liable for the victim's medical expenses and other bills resulting from the car accident. In an attempt to show that the driver was negligent because he or she was intoxicated, the victim must show that the negligent driver's level of intoxication was so high that he or she could not safely operate a motor vehicle. Typically, the victim will use police reports, witness reports and expert opinions to establish that the driver's intoxication prevented him or her from exercising reasonable care for the public's safety.

Some drivers in Missouri may disregard public safety and choose to drive under the influence. Although the victim of a drunk or drugged driver may be entitled to compensation, proving fault to recover damages takes thoughtful preparation.

Source: Town Hall, "Drugged driving: Study finds that fatal car crashes involving marijuana use have tripled," Leah Barkouukis, Feb. 9, 2014

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