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Study: Half of fatal car accidents with young drivers caused by alcohol, marijuana

Study: Half of fatal car accidents with young drivers caused by alcohol, marijuana

A new study conducted across nine states finds that the deaths of about half of all young drivers killed in car accidents were owed to alcohol or marijuana.

The researchers, whose findings were published in the January 12 online edition of the journal Injury Epidemiology, evaluated approximately 7,200 fatal car crashes from 1999 to 2011, involving drivers between the ages of 16 and 25. Alcohol, marijuana or a combination of the two was found to be involved in over half of these cases: 36.8 percent for drunk drivers, 5.9 percent for stoned drives and 7.6 percent for both.

The risk for a fatal DUI increased by 14 percent for drivers above age 21. Drivers under 21 were found to be more likely to have both alcohol and marijuana in their system at the time of their death.

"Policies related to the use of substances in the United States remain in flux, the rapid changes in marijuana use policy are a good example of this," Katherine Keyes, the study's lead author and an assistant professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said in an official statement. Her colleague, Dr. Guohua Li, adds that, "Taken together, we found no significant substitution effect between alcohol and marijuana. Rather, an uptick in availability seems to increase the prevalence of concurrent use of alcohol and marijuana."

Not only does driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol significantly raise a driver's risk of harm or death, it can also have accused motorists facing significant financial penalties, the loss of their license and even a prison sentence.

If you've been charged with a DUI in Colorado, contact The Orr Law Firm to enlist the best legal counsel for you needs.

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