On July 8th, Deb Greene, a 65-year old grandmother, walked into the store Cannabis City and legally purchased two bags of marijuana.  The purchases are significant for they mark the first bags of marijuana legally sold for recreational purposes in Seattle.  Yes, a march that started as Washington Initiative 502 is finally coming to fruition and the legal sale of marijuana is well underway in the greater King County area.

Despite your specific stance on this issue, the legal sale of marijuana is now producing a myriad of issues that Seattle must come to grips with in the name of safety, protection and responsibility.  One such issue involves driving an automobile while high, or under the influence of marijuana (an act that is entirely illegal).  To help combat this issue, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) recently released three videos all with the theme of “Drive High, Get a DUI.”  We want to discuss this campaign and we’re interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.  Will the commercials really deter the illegal act of driving while high?

The “Drive High, Get a DUI” Campaign

The videos in question all depict marijuana users under the influence.  In one video, we see a smoker attempting to shoot a free throw.  In a second, we see a very happy male trying to mount a flat screen television; and in a third, we see a stoned guy trying to cook food on a gas powered grill that is missing a propane tank.  How about if we take a quick look at our master barbequer?

As the video depicts, grilling while high is now legal in Seattle and the State of Washington.  The same holds true for playing basketball and hanging television sets.  However, as the video also conveys, driving while high is not legal.  The three videos have already been released on YouTube and they will be running on Washington television channels.

Washington’s “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign was actually borrowed from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDT).  CDT produced the commercials and aired them in Colorado earlier this year.  Their effectiveness in Colorado is still being studied.

The Reality of the Campaign

No matter if you’re a fan of the videos or not, they do convey a very important message.  That being, driving while high in the State of Washington is illegal and it could easily lead to a DUI charge.  A motorist in Washington can be stopped and arrested for DUI if the motorist is under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.

Further, a DUI is a very serious offense.  It can also carry very harsh consequences, such as fines, possible jail time, and the suspension of a driver’s privileges to operate a vehicle.  If a person is arrested for or convicted of a DUI, he will face both criminal penalties in court and administrative penalties with the Washington Department of Licensing.

Add to this the very important fact that motorists driving while high impose a severe safety risk to other motorists.  An impaired driver can cause irreparable damage to another driver’s auto and physical well-being.  Driving while high can even result in the death of innocent motorists.

The Effectiveness of the Campaign

The “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign has received mixed reaction.  Some find the videos humorous.  Some declare them dull.  Others believe they present an erroneous stereotype of recreational marijuana users.  Still others question their basic ability to deter the illegal and dangerous act of driving while high.

The Phillips Law Firm is interested in hearing your comments on the videos.  While our firm knows how to successfully represent clients that have been injured in a DUI accident (whether the accident has resulted from a driver’s over-consumption of alcohol or drugs), we are still working on mastering the art of critiquing videos.  How about if you lend us some help?

Do you believe the “Drive High, Get a DUI” videos will help deter a motorist from driving stoned?  Do you find them entertaining, or just down right boring?  Do you find them offensive?  We are eager to hear your thoughts.


Recently, researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health collected data from six states that perform toxicology tests on drivers involved in fatal car accidents. Information gathered from California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia on over 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010 showed that fatal car crashes involving pot use have tripled in the U.S. During the same time period, alcohol contributed to forty percent of traffic fatalities.

Researchers concluded that drugged driving accounted for 28 percent of traffic deaths in 2010, which is a sixteen percent increase over 1999. They also discovered that marijuana was the primary drug involved in the increase. Marijuana contributed to only 4 percent of fatal crashes in 1999, compared to 12 percent in 2010. The study concluded that increase in marijuana use was consistent across gender and age groups. Marijuana impairs driving similar to the way alcohol use does.

The study determined that driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol simultaneously has increased. When a driver is under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, they increase their risk of being involved in a fatal car crash to 24 times that of a sober person.

With the legalization of marijuana in Washington and other states across the country, these shocking statistics have become a wake-up call for highway safety officials.

How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

Every year, many lives are shattered by the unconscionable actions of other drivers, such as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As Seattle personal injury attorneys, we know that drugged driving is a relative plague on our state highways and city streets. We know that a wrongful death lawsuit can never bring back someone lost in a drugged driving traffic accident, but as legal experts in this area, we can help gain compensation for those families who have lost a loved one to senseless drugged driving wrecks.

Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can be greatly contested; however, we know the best way to fight for the recovery of both tangible and intangible losses. As skilled professionals in the field of personal injury, we have the tools and experience to ensure that past, current, and future medical expenses will be covered for victims of impaired driving. Contact our office today to discuss your case.

Contact Seattle Car Accident Attorneys

The experienced personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Firm are ready to help. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our Seattle personal injury lawsuit attorneys are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.


Motorcycle Accident - Washington StateMarijuana has been legal in the State of Washington for a year now—driving under the influence of marijuana, however, is not. A Bellevue man was recently charged with vehicular homicide after he collided with a motorcyclist on October 4th. Prosecutors allege that Caleb Floyd was driving high on marijuana when he collided with Bellevue motorcyclist Blake Gaston. Blood drawn from Floyd’s blood found levels of THC that were twice the legal limit.

The Bellevue motorcycle accident occurred when Gaston was crossing 102nd Avenue Northeast on Northeast 10th Street. Floyd was heading east when he suddenly cut left. Gaston was unable to stop and laid his KTM 450 motorcycle down and into the side of Floyd’s car. He suffered catastrophic injuries, including massive head trauma and was pronounced dead at Overlake Medical Center.

Now that marijuana is legal in Washington, law enforcement officials and state prosecutors now have to contend with drivers who are driving under the influence of pot. In the fist 6 months of 2013, 745 drivers tested positive for THC when pulled over by police officers. Over half of those were over the state’s new legal limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Whenever anyone operates a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the results can be deadly.

Motorcyclists, in general, are at risk for sustaining fatal injuries, due to the limited protection a motorcycle offers. Even when they are hit at relatively low rates of speed, motorcyclists can suffer serious head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and life threatening complications. Sadly, the majority of motorcycle accidents occur because of inattentive motorists who simply fail to recognize the motorcyclist on the road.

According to statistics, motorcyclists are not likely to escape an accident unharmed. In fact, 98% of multiple motor vehicle accidents and 96% of single vehicle accidents result in motorcyclists being injured. Of those, 45% of motorcyclists escape with only a minor injury. This means that the majority of injured motorcyclists sustain a serious injury after a motorcycle accident.

Contact Seattle Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Attorneys

If a negligent driver injures you or someone you love, an experienced Seattle motorcycle accident attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our Seattle personal injury lawsuit attorneys are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.

The personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Everett, Redmond, South Hill, Bremerton, Shoreline, Woodinville, Lake Stevens, Kent, Federal Way, Olympia, Bellingham, and throughout the State of Washington.


As Washington State gets closer and closer to legalizing marijuana, the fact that the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) found Washington to have one of the highest rates of drugged driving in the country has raised some questions as to what effect that kind of legislation will have on drivers and pedestrians.

Not only is marijuana legal to use as a medicinal pain remedy for various approved illnesses in Washington, but Seattle as a municipality has de-prioritized it for police officers, basically saying to recreational users that it’s okay to use if an officer isn’t around.

In fact, almost every ballot over the past few cycles has marijuana related legislation for voters to give their voice to. Even some politicians can be seen stumping at Hemp Fest, which indicates where the marijuana legislation winds are wafting.

Now this upcoming November ballot has not only a choice for president, but also the option to decriminalize marijuana in Washington and rendering it legal to be packaged and sold to the public as well as being taxed and regulated as such. The Initiative-502, dubbed “New Approach Washington,” is not only expected to inject millions of dollars into the state budget, but also widen access.

This is not only expected to increase the number of customers who wouldn’t have bought marijuana due to the risk and lack of access, this could potentially skyrocket Washington to number one on the list of drugged driving states. Many advocates point to studies that show there is no change in driving ability when a person is high on marijuana, however, a recent study released this week strongly disputes those claims.

Marijuana and Driving

Researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada reviewed nine studies involving 49,411 people involved in accidents on public roads involving one or more motor vehicles. The study including all vehicles licensed to drive on streets, cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles, where the drivers cited the use of marijuana or use was confirmed by blood tests.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) this month, found drivers who had used marijuana within three hours of beginning to drive had nearly double the risk of causing a collision, especially those that were fatal.

“Results show that if cannabis is consumed before driving a motor vehicle, the risk of collision is nearly doubled. Previous results have also found that there is also a substantially higher chance of collision if the driver is aged 35 or younger,” researchers wrote.

Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug worldwide and rates of its use in drivers are increasing. The study cites a 2007 study in Scotland that found 15% of 537 drivers aged 17 to 39 had used marijuana within 12 hours of driving at the time of the study.

“The consumption of cannabis impairs motor tasks important to safe driving, increasing the chance of collisions and that future reviews should assess less severe collisions from a general driving population,” the authors of the study suggested.

Drugged Driving in Washington State

Currently only 19 states have laws prohibiting any amount of drugs while operating a vehicle, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The laws in Washington State for driving under the influence (DUI) are pretty explicit.

According to RCW 46.61.502: (1) A person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state:

  • (a) And the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
  • (b) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug; or
  • (c) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.

Testing for drugs is also a lot different than alcohol. Many times a police officer needs to see the telling signs of drug use and take a suspect in for tests alternative to breathalyzer in order to determine the type and amount of drugs taken. The telling signs vary according to the drug the suspect has taken. Some of the signs of various drugs are:

  • Marijuana – This has a distinctive sweet or nutty and smoky smell. Drivers often speak slowly or take longs pauses before responding. They have blood shot eyes and can show signs of fatigue. Field sobriety tests are unreliable. Blood tests and hair follicle tests required.
  • Amphetamines – This category includes cocaine and meth amphetamine. When smoked, they can have a distinct toxic burning smell. There can also be residue left over on the dashboard. The driver speaks quickly in bursts, interrupts, and elicits paranoid behavior. Field sobriety tests are unreliable. Blood tests and hair follicle tests required.
  • Pharmaceuticals and Opioids – Many people don’t view these as dangerous or illegal to drive on, however, many pain killers are made from opium, the same as heroin. These drugs are known as opioids, and they can cause numbness, drowsiness, and blackouts. Field sobriety tests are effective in detecting that the person is under the influence. Blood tests and hair follicle tests required.

Seattle DUI Victims Lawyers

Marijuana legislation and the outcome is only our concern when it comes to the safety of our roads. DUI has been on the decline and is expected to further decline as laws become more strict and the consequences become more costly. Hopefully, if marijuana laws are passed, the proper education programs and media are implemented in order to warn the public and kids about the dangers of marijuana use and driving.

If you or someone you know have sustained serious personal injuries as a victim of a negligent driving accident then you need experienced counsel to protect your interests with the insurance companies and health care providers. Call the Seattle car accident attorneys at Phillips Law Firm for a free consultation.