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Driving While High: Hit By A Driver High On Marijuana In Charlotte? Here Is What To Do

Jan 11, 2018 Brown Moore Car Accidents

It is bad enough that accidents, wrecks, and collisions happen in Charlotte for maybe understandable reasons such as bad weather, momentary distractions, and mistakes. But some drivers make really bad choices — like smoking marijuana and driving. Mecklenburg County drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol are dangerous and potentially deadly. Driving while high is also a crime in North Carolina

If you — or a loved one — think that marijuana use might have been the cause of a wreck or collision that caused injury or death to you or them, contact the proven and experienced Charlotte NC auto accident attorneys here at Brown Moore & Associates. Here is what to do.

Charlotte Auto Accident Attorneys: Signs That The Other Driver Was High While Driving

If you think marijuana smoking might have played a role in your collision/wreck, you must (1) ask the police to document your suspicion, (2) ask the officer to give the other driver a field sobriety test, and (3) ask the officer to take the other driver to the police station for any further testing. The police officer may refuse to do those things, but it is very important for later in your case that you asked.

To convince the police officer to take the extra steps, you want to be able to give the officer some good reasons for your suspicion. Here are a few examples:

  • You noticed that “pot smell” around/in the vehicle or on the driver after the accident; as an example, see the Florida news report here
  • The other driver is not able to walk normally — swaying or not able to walk in a straight line
  • The driver is unusually calm/relaxed
  • The other driver’s eyes are bloodshot and/or watery or his/her pupils are dilated
  • The other driver has discoloration in his/her mouth or on his/her tongue
  • You saw the driver inhale from something as he/she was driving
  • You saw smoke in the other driver’s vehicle
  • You saw the marijuana or a joint in the other driver’s car
  • And similar signs

If possible, document any of this evidence with your phone and take written notes as soon as you can so that you can recall the event properly at a later point. Any and all of these observations might convince the officer to look more closely for marijuana use. Again, even if the officer does not follow through, it is important to make an effort.

In addition, all of the preceding is important evidence of impairment which can help you and your dedicated lawyers prove that the other driver was negligent in a personal injury lawsuit.

Charlotte Auto Accident Attorneys: Blood Testing Should Be Done Quickly If Possible

The most common method of proving marijuana use is to test for levels in the blood or urine of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol commonly abbreviated as “THC” and/or marijuana metabolite. In some states, the following amounts in blood or urine are defined as being “high” on marijuana stated in terms of nanograms per milliliter (“ng/ml”):

  • Blood sample — 2 ng/ml of THC or 5 ng/ml marijuana metabolite
  • Urine sample — 5 ng/ml of THC or 15 ng/ml of marijuana metabolite

THC and metabolite levels peak about 20 to 30 minutes after inhaling and then begin to decline rapidly to very low levels in about two to three hours. Law enforcement will not pursue testing unless serious criminal charges are involved, so it is important to speak quickly with an experienced auto accident lawyer who will seek to obtain these additional types of evidence concerning the other driver:

  • Driving record
  • Criminal record
  • Testimony and witness statements from others who might have seen evidence of marijuana use
  • Photos and postings on the driver’s social media accounts showing the use of marijuana

All of this evidence can lead a judge and jury to conclude that the other driver was impaired at the time of the accident. This is important for proving negligence.

Charlotte Auto Accident Attorneys: Proving Negligence

Victims of careless and reckless driving in Charlotte are entitled to file a lawsuit to recover money damages to fully compensate them for their injuries and property damage. In general, the legal theory is negligence. To prove negligence in Charlotte, the victim must prove four elements: (1) duty, (2) breach of duty, (3) causation, and (4) injury or damage to property.

In North Carolina, every driver owes a duty of “due care” to other drivers, pedestrians, and others on the roads and highways. Violation of the law — such as driving while high on marijuana — is proof that the person violated his or her duties owed to other drivers. See e.g., N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 20-138.1. Thus, as you can see, elements one and two are proven if you can prove the driver was high.

Charlotte Auto Accident Attorneys: Punitive Damages Might Be Available

In addition to recovering money damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and property damage, if there is proof of driving while high, punitive damages might be awarded by the jury. Under North Carolina law, punitive damages can be awarded to punish a wrongdoer. To allow a jury to consider punitive damages, there must be some “aggravating” factor like fraud, malice, or “willful or wanton conduct.” Driving while high on marijuana is recognized as an example of willful and wanton conduct.

Your Charlotte Auto Accident Attorneys — Brown Moore & Associates

If you have been injured in a car collision with a driver who was high on marijuana (or drunk or otherwise impaired by drug use), call the auto accident and personal injury attorneys at Brown Moore & Associates. Driving while high is not an “accident.” It was a choice. We have a team of lawyers and staff here at Brown Moore & Associates that can hold impaired drivers accountable for their actions. We are proven auto accident attorneys, and we are here to help. Contact our office today. We serve North Carolina residents in Asheville, Charlotte, Concord, Gastonia, Huntersville, Kannapolis, Monroe, Mooresville, Shelby, and surrounding areas.