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Lamber: If you indulge with cannabis don’t get behind the wheel afterward

Photo of Attorney Marc Lamber discussing cannabis DUI laws
Marc Lamber is a Martindale Hubbell AV preeminent-rated trial attorney, who practices law at Phoenix-based law firm Fennemore Craig. (File Photos/DigitalFreePress.com)
By Marc Lamber | Point of View

As many Arizonans prepare to kick back and celebrate 4/20—the unofficial, cannabis-themed holiday, it’s important to understand the legal consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana.

For many people, consuming cannabis can be a fun and social experience, similar to grabbing a few beers with friends or hosting a cocktail night at home.

What many might not realize, however, is that driving under the influence of THC can be just as dangerous and life-threatening as driving under the influence of alcohol. Arizona law prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle when a person is impaired to the slightest degree.

According to the CDC, Marijuana can affect your driving skills by slowing your reaction time, reducing your ability to make decisions, impairing your coordination and distorting your perception.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association states that people who smoke pot believe they can drive at just 1 hour and 30 minutes after smoking when in fact worse driving performance caused by pot smoking appears to resolve after 4 hours and 30 minutes. Legally, however, if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe a driver was driving impaired, then Arizona law creates “implied consent” to a blood test.

If the driver declines to take a chemical test, their license will be suspended. THC in the blood and other evidence of impairment can lead to DUI conviction, significant fines and jail time. I’ve been practicing personal injury law for more than 30 years and I’ve seen first-hand the devasting consequences caused by drivers who are impaired. Whether it be marijuana, alcohol or other drugs, serious injuries and sometimes death are a result that no driver wants to cause.

These consequences are irreversible and the pain caused by an impaired driver also impacts the family and friends of the driver and the victim. If you’ve consumed marijuana, whether by smoking or eating edibles, turn your keys over to someone else. You may save a life.

Editor’s note: Mr. Lamber is a Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent-rated trial attorney and is a director at Fennemore Craig.

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