It might seem like a no-brainer to leave the psychoactive compounds alone if you’ve got somewhere to be that requires driving. Yet what happens if you’re relaxing at home, decide to light a joint, and five minutes later, you get an urgent phone call that requires you to drive? Chances are, you’ll probably hop in the car and promise yourself to drive carefully until you reach your destination. The assumption that nothing will happen may have serious repercussions, to either yourself or others.
The temptation to operate machinery (i.e., vehicles) while high is a very real problem that may get worse as more states legalize the recreational use of cannabis products. Regardless if you smoke actual weed or consume a psychoactive cannabinoid, it’s explicitly stated that you should not operate machinery while under its effects. Unfortunately, many users claim that they drive better when high or that psychoactive effects don’t impact their ability to drive safely. So who should you believe? In this article, we’ll go over some of the dangers involved with driving while high.
What Happens When You Drive While High?
Cannabis products, specifically the ones with psychoactive compounds, can significantly reduce your ability to drive safely. As the effects of the compound increase as more time goes by, your reaction time becomes greatly impaired, as time itself seems sludgy and slow. Your motor coordination becomes impaired as well, essentially slowing down the rate at which your body moves. You may feel off balance and heavy, unable to move quickly in ways that normal traffic would require. Lastly, your ability to make safe decisions (i.e., your judgment) becomes severely limited. The ability to smoothly change lanes, exit safely using a highway off ramp, move away from slower moving vehicles, and avoid objects near or on the road are only some of the many ways that require clear-headed judgements.
You may feel an increasing sense of uneasiness and fearfulness that you’ll get caught by law enforcement. This may cause your driving to be erratic, making you more noticeable on the road. You may feel drowsy and the urge to rest your eyes for a split second could cause a serious accident. If you’re driving with others, you may feel the need to impress your passengers with your skillful driving to prove a point that you really do drive better when you’re high.
Can Driving While High Earn You A DUI?
The acronym “DUI” is usually associated with driving drunk. Yet “driving under the influence” can apply to any substance that compromises your ability to operate machinery safely. Since marijuana and psychoactive cannabinoids produce mind-altering effects, your cognitive function will be impaired and your reaction time may not be as on point as if you were driving sober. The argument that marijuana and psychoactive cannabinoids are legal for use in your state does not give you the right to drive while you’re high. Alcohol is legal to of-age adults in nearly every state (Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee are dry states by default), but that does not mean that adults can get drunk and go joy-riding.
When you choose to drive while high, you put yourself and others at risk. If a police officer stops you and deems you are driving while intoxicated, that officer is absolutely able to cite you for a DUI. Your car may be impounded, you may spend the night in jail, your license may be suspended, and you may face repercussions from your workplace. Just because you drove high before and “got away with it” doesn’t mean that you should have or always will. The news is filled with horror stories of intoxicated drivers causing accidents, sometimes with fatalities to the driver and passengers of the other car(s). If you really need to be somewhere but you’re high AF, just call an Uber or Lyft. The expense of the ridesharing app is not worth more than your or someone else’s life.
Can A Cop Prove That You’re High?
We’ve touched on the different types of drug tests used by law enforcement in a previous article entitled The Five Standard Types Of Drug Tests Used In Thc Testing. Blood and saliva tests are used to determine how recently a THC product was consumed. Yet the validity of these tests may vary due to how often you use products that contain THC. As THC is digested, it is stored within your fat cells. As your metabolism burns these fat cells for energy, the THC will be released. This means that frequent THC users will test positive in a blood or saliva test because of prior use, but not necessarily recent use.
However, these tests are often only administered at the station itself. Most police officers make judgment calls depending on a variety of factors. If you have a strong scent of marijuana in the car and traces of loose flower in the car, the cop may decide to give you a variety of tests to determine your sobriety. You’ve no doubt heard of these tests, with examples like reciting the alphabet backwards, walking heel to toe, balancing on one leg, and others. The more inexperienced cannabis consumers may fail these tests, but consistent cannabis users may easily pass these tests. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not you get a DUI is left up to the police officer on the scene. Ask yourself…do you really want to take that chance?
Drunk Or Stoned: Is One Worse Than The Other
The smart answer is to never drive while drunk or stoned. Yet for the sake of argument, driving while high is not as dangerous. Do not read that as driving while high is “safe.” Certain studies have found that those driving while drunk are 10 times more likely to cause fatal crashes as compared to those driving while high. Stoned driving will usually make it more difficult to do mundane driving, such as staying in your lane or getting off at the right exit, but are more likely to drive cautiously. Drunk driving reduces your ability to pay attention to foot traffic, street signs, and such. Drunk drivers may feel invincible, causing them to be more reckless and disregard speed limits. It’s not advisable to drive while drunk or high, and don’t even consider getting behind the wheel if you’re crossfaded (drunk and high simultaneously). If you really have somewhere you need to be and don’t want to bum a ride off your friends, consider public transportation or a taxi.
You’ve seen the warnings on product labels, you’ve had it drilled into your brain by loved ones, and seen more than enough car accidents to know the dangers of driving while intoxicated. It can be tempting to get behind the wheel and promise yourself you’ll be extra careful. But as experienced drivers know, situations can arise out of nowhere that require quick thinking and smooth maneuvering to remain safe. If you feel the effects of the THC-infused product start to kick in, avoid driving your vehicle for several hours until the high begins to wear off. Remember that your smartphone is your best friend in these situations; call a ridesharing service, a friend, or find ways to amuse yourself until it’s safe to drive. Just because you have a medical marijuana card or if your state has legalized recreational marijuana use doesn’t give you the right to put yourself and others at risk. Wherever you need to go, make sure you’re getting there responsibly.
In our next article, we’ll be talking about a topic we briefly mentioned earlier: crossfaded. What it means and why it’s important will be outlined in great detail in the upcoming post. Check back soon for this and other frequently asked questions surrounding the entire cannabis industry! As always, if you need clarification on anything mentioned in this article or have questions regarding hemp in general, feel free to reach out to us. Here at Two Hawk Extracts, we eagerly embrace all things hemp-related and would be delighted to share some of our vast knowledge of the cannabis plant with you. Step right up and don’t be shy! We hope to hear from you soon!