Mariano Morales Reminds Washington Drivers That I-502 Does Not Make It Legal To Drive After Using Marijuana

Drivers who cause accidents while under the influence of marijuana can be held responsible for the injuries they cause even if they are not charged with a “green DUI,” Washington State personal injury attorney says.

Yakima, Wash. — With the recent legalization of marijuana in the state of Washington, Yakima car accident attorney Mariano Morales today reminded motorists that driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal, and the dangerous practice could lead to car crashes.

“Marijuana may now be legal in Washington, but driving under the influence of drugs is not. Just like driving while impaired by legally obtained alcohol is illegal in Washington, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal and can be deadly,” said Morales, founder of Mariano Morales Law in Yakima.

“Driving under the influence, whether under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or drugs of any kind, is a serious safety threat in our society. Impaired driving causes accidents, and the passage of I-502 does not change that,” Morales said, referring to the recently passed initiative that legalized the possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana in Washington.

“People who cause accidents while under the influence of marijuana can and should be held responsible for the harm they inflict,” he said.

In fact, I-502 for the first time established a legal limit for the amount of active THC, the active chemical in marijuana. Similar to a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent, the presence of 5 nanograms of THC in a driver’s bloodstream is enough for the motorist to be considered impaired “per se,” or in fact, according to a recent article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Courts are now beginning to deal with so-called “green” driving-under-the-influence charges made since the new law went into effect last month, the Seattle newspaper reports.

Since marijuana became legal in Washington in December, more than 130 drivers have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs in the state, according to the article in the Post-Intelligencer. Sgt. Paul Erdahl, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, told the newspaper that the blood samples from those suspected marijuana DUIs are at the state’s toxicology lab and should be reported back to the law enforcement official within the next few weeks.

“I-502 actually assists those of us in the legal community who help people hurt by those who drive while under the influence of drugs,” Morales said. “The law establishes a specific legal limit for those who use marijuana and drive, something we did not have before. So-called ‘green DUI’ is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol, and we all know how unsafe that is. Studies show marijuana impairs judgment and reaction time, much like alcohol.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that marijuana has been shown to impair performance on driving simulator tasks on driving courses for about three hours after the drug is consumed. The impairments include increased reaction times, worsened car handling, impaired distance estimation, lack of coordination and sleepiness. Other groups suggest waiting for even longer periods of time before getting behind the wheel after using marijuana, according to an article on

“While more studies will be done on how long marijuana affects driving abilities, what we do know is that those who do choose to drive while under the influence of marijuana and cause an accident can be held liable for the injuries they cause, even if they are not criminally convicted of green DUI,” Morales said. “People need to make sure they have drug-free transportation if they are going to use marijuana, just like having a designated driver when drinking alcohol.”

Morales urged people who are hurt in accidents involving marijuana-impaired drivers to contact a qualified Yakima car accident lawyer such as those at Mariano Morales Law. “Our law firm has the resources to investigate car accident cases fully and help green DUI accident victims get the full compensation they are entitled to under the law,” Morales said.

About Mariano Morales Law

Mariano Morales Law is a full-service personal injury law firm serving clients in communities throughout Washington’s Yakima Valley, including Yakima, Tri-Cities (Richland, Pasco and Kennewick), Wenatchee, Grant County and Chelan County. Mariano Morales Jr. started the firm in 1994. Six times, he has been voted “Best Attorney” in Yakima Valley by readers of the Yakima Valley Business Journal. The firm helps clients in product liability, car accident, truck accident, nursing home abuse and neglect and many other cases involving traumatic injuries or wrongful death. The firm’s office is located at 1200 Chesterly Drive, Suite 180, Yakima, WA 98902. To learn more, call toll free at (509) 853-2222 or use the firm’s online form.