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The Risk of Driving on 4/20

By Criminal Defense Attorney on April 16, 2018

April 20th, also known as the day that pot smokers celebrate their love for the weed, is fast approaching. And while there is reason to celebrate both medicinal and recreational marijuana being legal in California, studies show that incidences of drugged driving are much higher on 4/20 than on other comparable days.

If you plan to partake of pot this 4/20 in San Diego, be wise, and do not drive while under the influence. Remember, the SD police will be out looking for just that. If you are arrested, give us a call and we at JD Law will get started on a defense for you.

Marijuana Sales Spike on 4/20

It is no surprise that the economies of Colorado, Washington, and now California have all profited from the sale of marijuana. When weed is sold legally, people are going to buy it—and they also buy significantly larger amounts at one time. But those sales go even higher during cannabis’s chief holiday.

In Colorado and Washington, marijuana sales were over $15 million on April 20, 2017 alone. That is a massive jump from the $6 million in marijuana sales on other Thursdays during the same time. People love their pot; and they love it even more on 4/20.

There is nothing wrong with marijuana sales being so high, particularly in states where the substance is newly legal. But law enforcement has concerns over how many of those buyers are going to turn into drivers while they are still under the influence.

Study on Drugged Driving on 4/20

Two doctors, John Staples of the University of British Columbia and Donald Redelmeier of the University of Toronto, studied 25 years’ worth of statistics provided by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in its Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Starting with 1992 through 2016, they analyzed the driving habits of people around the 4/20 holiday. And what they found is enough to make you think twice:

  • There were 1,369 drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle car crashes on all the April 20th holidays analyzed during the study. These numbers equal a total of 7.1 crashes every hour.
  • All of those crashes occurred between 4:20 p.m., when the holiday really starts heating up, until 11:59 p.m. of the same day.
  • Drivers aged 20 or younger had 207 fatal crashes on all April 20th holidays. On comparable holidays, those 20 and younger had 150 fatal crashes.
  • With each new 4/20 holiday, the risk increases. Between 1992 and 2003, fatal crashes on 4/20 were 6% higher than on comparable days. Between 2004 and 2016, those numbers spiked to 17% higher than on comparable days.
  • Fatal crashes become even more likely when 4/20 falls on a weekend, jumping about 8%.

For those who choose to observe the marijuana holiday and then get behind a wheel, the consequences can be severe. Even when there is not an accident involved, the driver will still be facing some serious penalties should he be caught under the influence while behind the wheel.

Drugged Driving Penalties in California

The penalties for driving while under the influence of drugs in California are largely the same as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Those facing a first offense will be facing a misdemeanor charge, which includes up to $1,000 in fines and two days to six months in jail. In addition to these penalties, there may be attorney’s fees, increases in car insurance premiums, costly court-mandated traffic school, substance abuse education courses, DMV fees, towing fees, and the installment of an ignition interlock device.

Arrested on 4/20?

As this holiday approaches, we urge all drivers to keep their wits about them—and to not let their hopes of a safe drive from Point A to Point B go up in smoke. If you are accused of a marijuana-related offense on 4/20, speak to a San Diego marijuana crime defense attorney at JD Law. We have handled hundreds of cases, and as a former narcotics investigator for the LAPD, our founding attorney, James N. Dicks, knows how best to handle them. For a free consultation, please call (760) 630-2000.

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