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Pittsburgh Steelers Running Back Didn’t Know He Could Get DUI While High

According to a recent article from CBS Sports, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell did not know that he could be charged with a DUI for smoking marijuana before driving.

403_dutch_weed.jpgAs your Boston drunk driving car accident lawyer understands, the term “drunk driving” is not a legal term. The crime itself takes a different name depending on the relevant state code. For example, in Massachusetts, the crime of drunk driving is called Operating Under the Influence (OUI) of intoxicating liquor or drugs. Prosecutors will typically refer to it as OUI liquor or OUI drugs when speaking in court.

As noted in this article, Bell, along with fellow Steelers running back LaGarrette Blount, was arrested for possession of marijuana a few hours before a team flight to Philadelphia. Bell, the driver of the car in which the two men were riding, was charged with driving under the influence of drugs (marijuana). According to police, Bell stated that he didn’t know that was possible.

During the vehicle stop, Bell was asked if he had smoked marijuana recently and said that he smoked it about a minute ago along with other people in the car. The officer informed Bell the he would have his blood tested for the metabolites of THC and would be arrested and charged with a DUI.

Bell apparently responded by telling the officer that he didn’t know you could be charged with a DUI for driving high. He then told the officer that he really smoked two hours ago and was no longer high. He asked why he would be getting high right before getting on the plane with his team to go play the Eagles.

There is a good reason driving under the influence of marijuana or any other drug is illegal. According to studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers who are high on marijuana will have slower reaction times, difficulty maintaining lane position, and other impairments to safe driving that we typically see when a driver is drunk. The chances of a driver causing a car crash when high on drugs is comparable to the rates when a driver is drunk.

The fact that a driver may not be aware that driving after smoking marijuana may lead to a DUI charge is not a defense to the criminal charge or any civil liability in a negligence action.

In a car accident lawsuit, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant operated his or her motor vehicle in a negligent manner that caused harm to a foreseeable person or foreseeable property. In other words, the plaintiff has to prove the defendant should have seen this coming. However, it is not necessary to prove what the actual defendant was thinking at the time of the accident. The court uses a reasonable person standard when establishing a breach of the duty of care.

The question is what would a reasonable person do if they were in the defendant’s position. Would a reasonable person know that driving after smoking marijuana could impair his or her ability to drive a motor vehicle safely? The answer is probably yes.

If you have been injured a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Le’Veon Bell didn’t know he could get a DUI while high, August 24, 2014, CBS Sports http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24673198/leveon-bell-didnt-know-he-could-get-a-dui-while-high
More Blog Entries:

2 passengers dead after drunk driver crashes car into Naperville quarry, July 3, 2014, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog