Connor-Mulholland - MSM&C

Attorney at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling

Practice Areas: Motor Vehicle Accidents, Workers’ Compensation, Personal Injury

Legal cannabis products like Delta-8 promise a mellow high, but using and driving can have tragic consequences. Understanding the impairment and legal risks is critical.

Delta-8 Effects Risks of Driving Impaired Legal Consequences
Causes relaxation and euphoria Decreased reaction time Arrest if tests are positive
Alter perceptions and cognition Poor concentration and focus Use as evidence in court
Varies substantially by brand Risk-taking behavior Jail time or fines
Interacts with alcohol and medicines Car accidents and injuries License suspension

What are the risks of driving under the influence of Delta-8 THC? 

Delta-8 is an intoxicating cannabinoid that can severely impair driving ability, leading to tragic accidents, even though police testing cannot accurately determine the level of intoxication.

The cannabis product known as Delta-8 is legal in 30 states and is often promoted as an alternative to marijuana that doesn’t get the user as high. However, Delta-8 still affects the ability to react and can cause significant impairment when coupled with alcohol use. Taking these products may be legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive while under the influence.

Like people who think they are fine to drive after having just one or two drinks, Delta-8 users may insist they are in control enough to get behind the wheel. Although a driver may not test above the legal limit for the substances after a crash, here’s what you should know about car accidents and Delta-8 impairment.

Delta-8 and Driving-Related Considerations: An Overview

  • Delta-8 THC is similar to the more potent Delta-9 THC compound (usually just called THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis plants.
  • Delta-8 is often used to help people relax, sleep, or treat anxiety. The same desirable relaxation effect can result in decreased reaction times while driving.
  • While Delta-8 may be legal in some states, it doesn’t mean the drug isn’t intoxicating. Just like alcohol is legal but dangerous when paired with driving, Delta-8 use can lead to car crashes and injuries.
  • After an accident, police will test for substances that may affect a driver and charge them if they are over the limit. States have different limits and different punishments for those who drive under the influence.

A survey conducted by CBD Oracle found that 49% of cannabis users won’t drive drunk, but they will drive while high. When users do choose to use THC products and alcohol, it leads to an increase in car accidents in states where these products are legal. Some other considerations about using products like Delta-8 while driving are:

  • THC use affects concentration, meaning drivers may weave out of their lane or have trouble focusing on their speed.
  • Using both Delta-8 and alcohol together impairs a driver much more than using either substance individually.
  • The manufacture of Delta-8 products is not regulated or controlled, so its effects may vary widely among brands.
  • Law enforcement tests aren’t sensitive enough to accurately calculate a driver’s blood level of Delta-8, so nearly all regular users will test positive, even if they haven’t used it recently.

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What Makes Your Delta-8 Make a Difference in car Accidents?

Lots of companies have sprung up to take advantage of the legalization and popularity of products like Delta-8. While it is just one of over 100 cannabinoids naturally found in the Cannabis sativa plant (marijuana), most products containing this substance are synthetically produced. They’re made with additional chemicals and use processes that vary according to how much a manufacturer is willing to invest, the scale at which they want to produce, and the profit margin they seek.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not evaluated or approved any Delta-8 products for sale in the US, meaning there are no regulations on what can go into these items. Users are at the mercy of manufacturers when it comes to safety, purity, concentration levels, and effectiveness.

Side Note: The FDA and poison control centers nationwide have reported a rise in adverse events involving Delta-8 products in the last two years.

Using products that aren’t honestly labeled with their contents or that are made in unsanitary conditions puts users at risk for a number of health concerns. These substances may interact poorly with other medications or have dangerous side effects on certain populations. If they are mistakenly taken by children or pets, they could cause severe illness or death.

Delta-8 : The Good and The Not So Good Things To Look Out For

Delta-8 is used by a wide range of people for a multitude of reasons. Some want to relax, fight anxiety, or relieve pain. Others want to just feel good while going about their day with a substance that’s easily available and not as strong as marijuana. Positive effects reported while using Delta-8 include:

  • Sense of relaxation
  • Lessening of pain
  • Euphoria
  • Altered sense of time
  • Reduction in anxiety levels
  • Easier time in social settings
  • Milder effects than those caused by Delta-9 or other cannabis products

On the other side, Delta-8 can still induce some of the more negative side effects commonly associated with cannabis use, such as:

  • Paranoia
  • Cognitive distortions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Extreme relaxation
  • Risk-taking behaviors due to euphoria
  • Nausea from overdosage
  • Increase in anxiety
  • Difficulty with short-term memory

These drawbacks don’t present many problems sitting at home but can become extremely dangerous when a user decides to drive while under the influence. In addition to losing focus on what they’re doing, drivers may inadvertently speed or ignore traffic signals. Changes in sensory perceptions, such as visual or auditory hallucinations, could contribute to car accidents when coupled with poor visibility or weather conditions.

Delta-8 Usage, Car Accidents, and the Related Laws in Iowa

Regardless of whether Delta-8 products are legal in your state, driving under the influence of any drug or alcohol that impairs the ability to drive is still against the law. Even prescription medications can unduly influence your driving skills if abused or taken in conjunction with drinking. When police stop a motorist for suspicion of DUI, they will conduct tests to determine what substances are present in the individual’s system.

Because Delta-8 is derived from marijuana, it breaks down in the body into the same metabolites as Delta-9 and other cannabinoids. This makes it indistinguishable from those substances on a drug test. The National Institute for Justice concluded in a recent study that current field sobriety tests used by law enforcement can’t accurately determine whether someone ingested a legal or an illegal substance.  Study participants reported much stronger symptoms of intoxication than their blood levels indicated. 

When the police can’t tell how high someone is or whether they are under the influence of something legal or illegal, they will likely arrest a person who tests positive. This positive test can be used against a driver who causes or is involved in a crash. Evidence showing any history of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, along with any record of regular use of intoxicating substances, could negatively influence a jury in a criminal or civil case.

Why Do You Need To Consider Working with an Experienced Attorney?

A personal injury attorney can also help negotiate a claim and have a claimant’s back if it goes to court. The Des Moines car accident attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling can help. Contact us by calling 1-515-303-2328 or Click Here for a free consultation of your case.

The team at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling has a wealth of experience dealing with a variety of accident cases. Their knowledge extends to multi-car accident insurance issues, where the liability and coverage can be complex, ensuring you are represented with the full force of their expertise.

 Still unsure about whether to seek help? You can see the results that the team delivers to better understand the process and see if they are the right fit for you.

Providing Unmatched EXPERIENCE On Your Case When you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been treated unfairly or you’re in the middle of a legal disagreement, it can be difficult to know what your rights are and how to proceed.

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