For a person over the age of 21, possessing a pint of vodka in the State of California is perfectly legal. Consuming it and then driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above is against the law. It’s also perfectly legal for a person over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in California, but it’s against the law for a person to operate a motor vehicle while impaired or under the influence of marijuana.

Whether it’s a drunk driver or a high driver behind the wheel, other than maybe a helmet, bicyclists are exposed and virtually helpless in the event of a crash with a motor vehicle. Injuries to a bicyclist might range from serious to fatal. You’ll want to contact our Los Angeles bicycle accident lawyers right away if you were injured or you lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by a drunk or high motorist.

Increased Motor Vehicle Accidents

Recreational possession and use of marijuana was legalized in California in November of 2017. The law became effective January 1, 2018. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that motor vehicle accidents have increased up to 6% in Washington, Oregon and Colorado after those states legalized the possession of recreational marijuana. A second study had statistically similar findings.

How Marijuana Affects Drivers

Driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or any combination of the two is illegal in California. Studies using driving simulators have shown that after ingesting marijuana, drivers had slower cognitive and perceptual time and tended to weave more. What that translates into is that when bicyclists are on the roadways, they’re at a significantly higher risk of getting hit.

How is Marijuana Impairment Proved?

The issue in proving marijuana impairment is that unlike blood alcohol testing, there is no such standardized testing for marijuana. CVC section 23152 states that it’s against the law for any driver in California who “is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.” It also makes it unlawful to drive a vehicle under the combined influence of “any alcoholic beverage and drug.” As there is no breath test available for marijuana DUIs, a suspected marijuana DUI driver would need to be asked if he or she would consent to a blood test. If no consent is given, a blood test would be in order, but police would be required to obtain a search warrant from a judge. Test results of a blood sample could be used along with other evidence to prove impairment.

Like accidents involving driving under the influence of alcohol, a driver who causes a crash with a bicyclist can be the target of a personal injury lawsuit for driving under the influence of marijuana.

Contact a Bicycle Injury Lawyer

Los Angeles Bicycle Law represents bicyclists because we are bicyclists. We know first-hand how rewarding, yet dangerous, cycling can be in the Los Angeles area. Even though the law treats bicyclists with the responsibilities and rights of a motor vehicle, the road itself offers far fewer protections. That is why we actively fight to protect bicyclists in our community. If you were injured in a bicycle crash that was caused by a driver who was under the influence of marijuana, alcohol or both contact Los Angeles Bicycle Law today.