Washington State Marijuana-Related Traffic Fatalities Double Since Legalization

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Posted on May 20, 2016

Washington State lawmakers legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012. Since then, the Washington State Patrol has identified an increase in "green DUIs." Now, a new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals just how drastically marijuana-related traffic fatalities have increased.

Marijuana-Related Traffic Fatalities Have Doubled

According to the AAA study, the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana use rose from eight percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2014. The data from the study showed, in 2014, approximately one in six drivers involved in fatal accidents used marijuana before the crash.

Safety officials are alarmed at this drastic increase and are quick to point out Washington as a cautionary tale for states considering legalization. State legislators attempted to curb the rise of drivers under the influence of marijuana by making it a state crime. The current Washington state law [RCW § 46.61.502], which has existed since the late 1970s, deems driving under the influence of marijuana a gross misdemeanor.

Green DUI Penalties Will Rise in 2016

The penalties for more severe violations of DUI laws will soon rise. Currently, it is a class C felony if officers find you driving under the influence of marijuana and:

  • You have four or more prior offenses within ten years regarding drugs or alcohol.
  • You were convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • You were convicted of vehicular assault while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • You have a comparable out-of-state offense.


On June 9, 2016, these offenses will be a class B felony. Under the new law, an arrest for any of those listed reasons can result in jail time up to 10 years and fines up to $20,000.

Claiming Green DUI as a Measure of Negligence in a Car Accident

Even though Washington state law sets a limit of 5.00 THC concentration in a person's blood, some researchers claim there is no specific level to identify impairment. Impairment from marijuana depends on the individual and the type of marijuana consumed. Frequent users of the drug can also have greater long-term concentrations of THC, even if they did not use marijuana within two hours of driving.

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a negligent act. If a driver who is under the influence of marijuana caused your car accident, you may be able to hold him liable for your injuries.

For help with your marijuana-related accident claim, give the legal team at Max Meyers Law PLLC a call. We can help you file your claim, gather evidence, and negotiate a settlement to ensure you get the money you need and deserve.

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your right to recovery after an accident with an intoxicated or impaired driver: 425-399-7000.

Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.