New Jersey residents and others may know that April 20 is treated like a holiday for those who enjoy marijuana. The trend began in 1992 when it was mentioned in a magazine called High Times. Researchers used data from 1992 to 2016 to compare traffic fatality rates on that date compared to dates a week before and a week after. The research revealed that there was a slight increase in fatal car crashes on American roads on April 20.
Specifically, there was a 12 percent higher rate of traffic fatalities on April 20 compared to the other dates. That translated to 142 deaths across the country on that date. However, it wasn't possible to conclude that marijuana was the primary cause of the increased risk because there wasn't always police data linking marijuana use with a given accident. Furthermore, a driver may be impaired by both alcohol and marijuana at the same time.
Thinking about the impact marijuana has on roadway safety may be relevant as marijuana becomes increasingly legal in the United States. This is because it can impair a driver's ability to function while operating a motor vehicle. Almost all states allow medical marijuana, and it can be used for recreational purposes in nine states in Washington, D.C. Canada may legalize its use in July.
Those who are charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs may face a variety of penalties such as a license suspension or revocation. It may also be possible to spend time in jail. An attorney might help develop a defense such as showing that a person was not impaired at the time of a traffic stop. A strong defense may allow for a plea or an acquittal.