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With an increasing number of states legalizing marijuana for medical or recreational use, the results of a recent study are giving law enforcement agencies a new cause for concern when it comes to intoxicated driving.

According to researchers with the Institute for Human Psychopharmacology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, combining alcohol with pot more severely inhibits a driver’s ability to operate a car than using either alcohol or marijuana alone. In a controlled test, drivers showed diminished capacity with both low and moderate levels of alcohol or pot consumption. But when the two substances were consumed together, drivers became more severely impaired and exhibited issues similar to someone with a BAC between 0.09 and 0.14—even though their true BAC was well under the legal limit for driving.

The research raises new questions for many courts, agencies, and lawmakers who are still working through the implications of legalized pot on impaired driving laws and limits. And the study results could potentially slow efforts to expand access and usage of marijuana into establishments that serve alcohol.

For example, in November Denver voters may be asked to decide if bars or clubs can allow patrons to use marijuana on the premises. Supporters argue bars are a logical place to allow legal, public consumption of the drug, but some health and law enforcement officials say that simultaneous access to pot and alcohol will create new issues, including unknowingly increasing levels of physical impairment and ultimately dangerous driving.

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up Administrator

Sobering Up: A blog about drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice, is anything but a corporate blog. Sobering Up is an opportunity for anyone interested or involved in the issues of drunk driving, alcohol-fueled crime, alcohol dependence and addiction, and the justice system to participate in the conversation.


  1. You are correct that this could cause even more problems when it comes to intoxicated driving. As a DUI Attorney, I have seen tragedy strike many families because of drunk or intoxicated driving. I fear that the legalizing of marijuana consumption in clubs and bars will increase the amount of those sad tragedies.

    Thanks for posting!

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