“I was thinking about getting a commercial driver’s license to drive a semi-truck, but they have drug screening requirements, how does that work now that marijuana is legal?”
Hi, I’m David Holub, a personal injury attorney practicing law in northwest Indiana.
Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law.
Today’s question comes from a listener who has a question about how laws legalizing marijuana impact laws designed to prevent driving vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances.
Suppose a driver consumed marijuana in a state where it has been legalized, then drives into a state like Indiana, where it is not legal, and gets in a crash, and THC is discovered in the driver’s blood?
First, even in the state where possessing marijuana is legal, it is not legal to drive under the influence of the drug. When a state lets a person get high, it does not let that person drive while high.
Second, people don’t realize that marijuana can be traced in a person’s blood system in a drug screen for up to 30 days or more after use. Meaning that a person driving may have used the drug a week ago and clearly is not under the influence of the drug, and still test positive for the drug.
The trucking industry, for example, is noted to be having some difficulty getting young truck drivers to qualify for over the road driver positions, because the job applicants cannot pass the restrictive drug screen for marijuana.
Of course, large commercial vehicles can be much more dangerous to operate compared to passenger cars. Drug screens are required, not just to make sure a trucker is not driving under the influence, but to make sure they are not in the habit of using drugs in general. Screening for all types of controlled substance is critical in the case of commercial vehicle operators.
Keep in mind also, though some states have identified marijuana as a drug that they will consider legal, it is not legal under federal law. Motor carrier regulations require drug screens. A person who uses marijuana products who thinks that they’re going to pass a drug screen is sadly mistaken.
We’ve had many situations where drivers involved in car crashes that we are investigating have tested positive for THC, which is the dangerous ingredient in marijuana that is picked up in drug screenings.
If a person is going to smoke marijuana, or consume it in any manner, and then drive, they better think again. It can impair judgment, and impair reaction time, just like alcohol. It is not legal anywhere to drive while impaired by alcohol or any other mind-altering drug.
I hope you found this information helpful. If you have questions about your legal rights if you get hurt due to the carelessness of another person, or as a result of substandard medical care, or due to a product defect, construction injury, or any other type of personal injury, please give us a call at (219) 736-9700. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at www.DavidHolubLaw.com – while there make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth”. Have a great day.