auto accident

Photo courtesy of Komo News

High on THC, High on Speed, But Low on Experience

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office released a report on a fatal auto accident today. The crash took the lives of 3 teenagers, and seriously injured a fourth. It happened last summer near the Alderwood Mall. The cause of the crash was a toxic combination of speed, inexperience, and impairment from illegal substances.  This deadly combination caused the driver to plow into an illegally parked semi-trailer at 56 miles per hour. The force was so powerful that it wedged the Kia SUV beneath the trailer. The top of the vehicle crumpled and sheered off. Only one of the teens survived.

Blood samples show the driver, a 16-year-old, had a THC level of 6.8ng/mL. The legal limit for a person over 21 is 5ng/mL. Conversely, the legal limit for anyone under the age of 21 is 0. THC is the chemical compound in cannabis.

The driver was “speeding, inexperienced, likely fatigued due to the time of day and in violation of his intermediate license,” according to the report. The driver was also not supposed to have any passengers under 20 years old or drive a vehicle between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. “Whether the driver fell asleep, was interacting with other passengers in the vehicle, changing radio stations, checking his cell phone or doing something else that caused him to drift off the roadway will never be known,” the report says.

The driver became licensed only two months before the fatal crash. He was in violation of Washington state’s intermediate teen driver’s license law, designed to give teen drivers increasing amounts of responsibility and driving privileges based on age and experience. View original news source on the fatal auto accident.

Newly Licensed and Young Drivers

Washington has a graduated driver’s license law to help underage drivers gain experience before they are given full driving privileges. With an intermediate license, you must adhere to the following rules at all times:

  • You may not drive while using a wireless device in any capacity unless you need to report an emergency. This includes talking on cell phones, texting, and emailing.
  • For the first 6 months, you can’t carry passengers under 20 years old who aren’t members of your immediate family.
  • During the second 6 months, you may only carry up to 3 passengers under 20 years old who aren’t immediate family members.
  • For the first 12 months, you can’t drive between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. The exception would be if there is a licensed driver at least 25 years old accompanying you.
    • The only exception is if you are traveling for agricultural purposes with farm supplies or products.

At 18 years old, all restrictions are removed and it converts automatically into a full unrestricted driver’s license.

Why the Limitations on Young Drivers?

Most of the laws regarding rules of the road have to do with safety for every motorist. Studies show that the primary causes of auto accidents involving young drivers are inexperience and youthful recklessness. This further increases the mortality rates in this age-range.  Teens with other youth outside of their own family were riskier drivers then when driving alone or with family members. With this in mind, lawmakers recognized that most accidents with teen drivers were indeed preventable traffic accidents.

By gradually removing the restrictions over time, lawmakers were hoping to prevent many of the poor driving decisions that came with inexperience and that led to many young lives gone too soon.

Age IS an Issue

Just as in the underage driving laws, there is an age restriction for Initiative 502. Initiative 502 legalized the purchase and use of marijuana in the state of Washington. Only adults over the age of 21 may purchase and possess this drug. It is illegal for anyone to sell to an underage minor.

Many parents are unaware of the growing epidemic of illegal drug-use among their teens. Parents need to arm themselves with some of the facts to address this problem. Marijuana use is more common than most other illegal drugs combined, according to studies. Going beyond the law, parents need to understand the health risks of marijuana-use in kids, recognized the signs of use, and get help if you suspect your teen is using it. The frank conversations parents have with their kids–setting personal expectations and consequences–are more effective than any ad campaign they will hear in the schools.

Facts about Teens and Marijuana

  • Marijuana is addictive. About 1 in 6 people who start using as a teen, and 25-50 percent of those who use it every day, become addicted to marijuana.
  • Marijuana and teen driving do not mix. Autopsies show that around 14% of drivers who die in accidents involving drug use have marijuana in their system, sometimes in combination with alcohol or other drugs.
  • Marijuana is most common drug among teens. More teenage girls use marijuana than cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and all other illicit drugs combined.
  • Marijuana use may precede depression. Research shows girls (ages 14-15) who used marijuana daily were 5 times more likely to face depression at age 21.
  • Marijuana offenses carry serious legal consequences. Although the laws vary greatly by state and country, some regions impose very strict consequences for teenage offenders.

Here’s more information for parents:   and

Marijuana Greatly Increases Risks of an Auto Accident

Marijuana is illegal for anyone under the age of 21. The human brain is continually developing until the age of 25 and any kind of drug use is a risk to its organic integrity. Marijuana affects a number of skills required for safe driving—alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time—so it’s not safe to drive high or to ride with someone who’s been smoking. Marijuana makes it hard to judge distances and react to signals and sounds on the road. And combining marijuana with drinking even a small amount of alcohol greatly increases driving danger, more than either drug alone.

Like alcohol, marijuana stays in the body for quite awhile after use, slowly wearing off. And even if you feel “fine”–never take the risk of getting behind the wheel or with someone that has been using legal and/or illegal substances. The consequences could be life-threatening and even fatal. The dangers of driving under the influence should also be a primary focus in the conversations we have with our kids. Getting high with friends is never a good thing–especially if there’s a chance it’s the last thing you do with a friend.

Our Auto Accident & Personal Injury Lawyers are Here to Help

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle collision due to a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI), contact Fielding Law Group today for a free consultation with one of our legal professionals. Our accident attorneys know exactly how to get you the help and compensation you need to get your life back. Remember–Don’t let an accident WRECK YOU!