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Which Drugs Present the Greatest Risk to Drivers?

person driving in car

Ever since Colorado voted to approve recreational use of marijuana, debates over the implications of legalization have only continued to intensify -- and with so little hard data to draw on, the camps both for and against legalization are essentially moving in uncharted waters now. What exactly constitutes stoned driving? What amount of marijuana determines intoxication? How long after inhalation can marijuana both stay in your system and influence your judgment and ability to drive? These are the questions, among others, currently being lobbied around, and likely will be for some time further.

But while concrete numbers can be hard to come by, there is data pointing to one surefire conclusion: Marijuana is the substance least likely to increase risks of car accidents.

That's all according to a study at Columbia University, where researchers compared the influence of marijuana, alcohol and other substances on driving, determining which drug has the greatest effect on increasing the likelihood for a fatal traffic accident. As Vox reports, here is what the Columbia team found, from the greatest risk multiplier to least:

  • Alcohol mixed with other drugs: 23.24 percent
  • Alcohol: 13.64 percent
  • Mixing non-alcohol drugs: 3.41 percent
  • Depressants: 4.83 percent
  • Stimulants: 3.57 percent
  • Narcotics: 3.03 percent
  • Marijuana: 1.83 percent.

While hardly an endorsement for driving under the influence of marijuana, this study does highlight just how comparatively more dangerous alcohol is -- more so than any other drug apparently -- for significantly contributing to traffic accident deaths.

Always err on the side of caution and don't get behind the wheel if you've been drinking or smoking marijuana. Should you find yourself pulled over and charged in such an instance, though, contact The Orr Law Firm. Our expert Colorado DUI lawyers can provide you with the legal counsel you deserve.