Oklahoma drunk driving has long been a source of mayhem on the roads, property damage, personal injury and death, as well as both civil and criminal consequences for those found liable or who are convicted of engaging in it. The increasing prevalence of drugged driving has added a new layer to this problem, and when it comes to mixing drugs and automobiles marijuana is the clear first choice.

We have posted earlier on the subject of comparing marijuana to alcohol when it comes to identifying the negative effects of each on driving behavior and ability. Until recently one problem has been that although many studies have been undertaken on alcohol and driving, comparatively few have examined the effects of marijuana. This has led to some uncertainty concerning the available data as well as the conclusions that can be drawn.

A new study sponsored by multiple organizations — the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Office on National Drug Control Policy — has provided additional hard information on the effects of both alcohol and marijuana, and its conclusions suggest that of the two alcohol is clearly worse in how it impairs drivers.

The study used a realistic driving simulator to record what happened when test subjects — the majority of whom were consistent but not necessarily heavy-use consumers of marijuana — were given 45 minutes of simulated driving time while having a blood alcohol content level of up to .065 percent, or who had inhaled marijuana in vaporized form. Others were given a placebo in place of the marijuana. The study centered its observation on how well the participants were able to keep the simulated car inside of their lane while they were “driving”.

Some of the findings mirrored those of earlier studies, particularly the effect that marijuana and alcohol had on the aggressiveness of drivers measured by their willingness to engage in potentially risky acts. Those who consumed marijuana became more cautious and relied on “compensation” behaviors to offset what they felt were the deleterious effects of the drug on their driving ability. The alcohol consumers, on the other hand, displayed the opposite effect: instead of overestimating the negative effects of alcohol, they underestimated it. That, in turn, contributed to them engaging in more risk-taking while driving.

In terms of lane-keeping, the effect of marijuana (loss of peripheral, or “tunnel” vision) was to increase the incidence of the test subjects weaving within the lane, but staying within it. Still, those who take marijuana before driving should note that the inside-lane weaving the drug induces is similar to that of drivers who test at .08 BAC — the impairment level.

Those who had drank alcohol, on the other hand, showed a significantly degraded ability to stay in the lane. The report states clearly that when cars left their lane in the simulator, each time it was a test subject who had consumed alcohol, and not marijuana.

Another similarity to earlier alcohol-marijuana driving comparison studies is that alcohol and marijuana are complementary to each other, although alcohol is the dominant partner. Test subjects who took both substances together experienced the same overconfidence and decrease in lane-keeping ability as with alcohol — even though their actual levels of blood concentration were individually below the intoxication threshold.

Neither alcohol consumption or marijuana usage should be undertaken with driving. But if you were pulled over because you were weaving in — or out of — your lane, you could find that police want to search your vehicle, or they see or smell something in the passenger compartment. At no point should you ever consent to a search of your vehicle. You should politely ask the officer if you are free to leave. If you find yourself needing experienced help with a DUI or DWI in Oklahoma, or if drug-related charges are involved, you should contact the Hunsucker Legal Group without delay.