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Teen high on pot during fatal crash

As an increasing number of states legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use, the question of criminal and civil liability for DUI is likely to come under heightened scrutiny. This is particularly true in light of collisions such as the March 23 motorcycle accident in Florida that killed a father of two adult children. The culprit in this case appears to have been a teenage driver who had been smoking marijuana before he got behind the wheel.

The driver, now 17, was arrested in connection with the crash in mid-August. Authorities said the arrest came months after the collision because blood tests and autopsy results were still pending. Official reports show that the victim, age 65, was killed when his motorcycle was struck at about 1:15 p.m. on the day of the accident. The teen driver, who had just smoked marijuana with his friends, was attempting to find a parking spot. When he made a U-turn, the young driver struck the victim's motorcycle, sending him flying through the air. The motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet.

Authorities report the victim suffered serious head wounds as a result of the collision. He was transported to local medical facilities in serious condition, but the injuries were so severe that he died.

The teen driver appeared to be distracted when officers interviewed him after the accident, perhaps because of the marijuana. That driver and one of his vehicle's occupants remained at the scene of the crash, but another teen grabbed his personal effects and fled the site. News reports do not indicate that the vehicle's passengers are facing charges.

The driver in this case is facing criminal charges because of his decision to get behind the wheel while high. Every American driver has the right to remain safe on local roads, free from drivers who have consumed drugs or alcohol. Even as legalization debates rage, the fact remains that marijuana intoxication is a dangerous condition that can lead to tragic accidents, injuring or even killing innocent people.

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