“Tell Them You Mean Business”

Boston Marijuana DUI Concerns Heighten

Following the 2012 referendum that legalized medicinal marijuana in Massachusetts, the state is still preparing guidelines for yet-to-be-opened marijuana dispensaries. cannabissatvia

However in the meantime, a new Boston Globe report indicates that doctors - from psychiatrists to gynecologists to pain specialists - have opened offices throughout the state for the primary purpose of evaluating patients for the approved use of marijuana.

Our Boston accident lawyers recognize that this is contrast to what many assumed would happen, which was that people would simply consult with their regular doctor to determine whether they might benefit from the drug. Instead, entire niche offices are apparently devoted to the cause - which raises our concern that the drug might be heavily abused.

How dangerous is driving under the influence of marijuana?

Concerns over drug-impaired drivers are not unfounded. Consider a recent report conducted by the Center for Injury and Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Researchers there found that fatal crashes involving drivers with marijuana in their systems had tripled over the course of a decade.

Whereas 4 percent of drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents in 1999 tested positive for marijuana, by 2010, that figure had ballooned to 12 percent. That's an increase of 300 percent.

Of course, it's worth noting that because marijuana stays in one's system for a week or more after consumption, presence of the drug only indicated use - not necessarily intoxication or impairment.

But this is precisely the problem when it comes to enforcement of laws regarding impaired driving and marijuana. With alcohol consumption, the presence of alcohol in one's blood stream in certain amounts is a reliable indicator of intoxication because of how quickly alcohol is processed by the body. But because marijuana lingers longer in the body, urine or even blood tests aren't necessarily accurate indicators of intoxication. That means that police more often have to rely on subjective cues, such as red eyes, apparent cognitive deficiencies and even the suspect's own confession.

Marijuana impairment difficult to prove

Because marijuana DUI is tougher to prove, users may feel emboldened. Worse, some consider it a safe alternative to alcohol when driving. However, marijuana impairment affects the brain in much the same way alcohol does. A person who is high suffers from reduced reaction times and impaired judgment - which can be a deadly combination for motor vehicle operators.

Colorado, one of just two states so far to approve marijuana for purposes of recreation, has therefore enacted one of the toughest marijuana DUI laws on the books. Anyone who is caught with 0.05 nanograms or more of the drug in their system can be arrested for DUI.

The state recently invested $1 million in advertisements to remind people that driving stoned is a crime.

Washington state, which has also legalized marijuana for recreation, is considering a similar measure.

Here in Massachusetts, doctors have already certified hundreds of patients to grow or purchase the drug. Also, a company out of California that produces the drug now has a branch in Framingham, and administrators there have said that it has 1,000 approved patients so far.

Whether this kind of system will thrive remains to be seen. So far, the Massachusetts Medical Society has voiced grave concern over doctors offices that are open for the sole purpose of providing access to one particular drug. This creates a clear conflict of interest for doctors, especially in cases where the drug may not even be in the best interest of the patient.

Boston accident victims may contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone at 1-800-WIN-WIN-1. 


Massachusetts seatbelt use on the rise. What’s driving the increase?

Seatbelts save lives. As seatbelt use has increased nationwide, the fatality rate for motor vehicle accidents has plummeted. That’s probably why seatbelt usage continues to rise in Massachusetts. An estimated 67 percent of Massachusetts motorists wear seatbelts, according to a 2008 study. That’s up dramatically since 1998, when 51 percent of Massachusetts drivers wore seatbelts.

Even so, Massachusetts lags far behind the rest of country in seatbelt usage. The difference may have to do with different seatbelt laws in different states. States like Massachusetts have secondary enforcement seatbelt laws. This means police cannot pull someone over simply for not wearing their seatbelt in Massachusetts. Police in Massachusetts can only issue a $25 ticket for not wearing a seatbelt if there’s another traffic violation.

States with primary seatbelt laws (meaning police can stop someone simply for not wearing their seatbelt) report that 88 percent of motorists wear seatbelts. States without such laws report that 75 percent of motorists wear seatbelts.

Seatbelts are not perfect. They are only effective if they function correctly. And sometimes, seatbelts have fatal flaws.

Several years ago, a gifted young professional baseball player, Brian Cole, was killed when his Ford SUV rolled over and his seatbelt failed to hold him in place. An investigation found that Cole had on his seatbelt. Ford insisted there was nothing wrong with the seatbelt. The courts disagreed. Recently, a jury ordered Ford to pay Cole’s family $131 million, claiming the seatbelt did not operate correctly and contributed to Cole’s death.

Accidents happen fast. You life can change in an instant. What would you do if you were injured in a car accident? What if you couldn’t work? How would you pay your bills? What if your insurance company refused to pay you? You need an action plan. You need someone who’s not afraid to take on big insurance companies. You need someone who understands the law. You need someone experienced with winning such complicated cases. You need the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone.

Our lawyers have years of experience successfully representing car accident victims in Massachusetts. We know the games insurance companies play to avoid paying victims. Level the playing field. Call a law firm dedicated to getting results for our clients. Contact Mark E. Salomone today. We mean business.