Plaintiff’s Marijuana Use Prior to Accident Not Permitted into Evidence

In most New Mexico truck accident cases, the fact that one of the drivers involved in the accident had marijuana in their system would seem to be a relevant fact. However, in a recent truck accident case out of California, the court held that evidence of the plaintiff’s prior marijuana use was not admissible.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was involved in a truck accident that was caused when the defendant truck driver pulled onto the highway after taking a nap on the side of the road. The plaintiff was unable to stop his vehicle in time, and he crashed into the side of the semi-truck, which was completely blocking his lane.

While the plaintiff was being treated for his injuries, he disclosed that he occasionally smoked marijuana but that he had not done so in the last 36 hours. A preliminary drug test was given to the plaintiff, and it came back showing that there were trace amounts of the inactive metabolite of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

The defendant wanted to inform the jury that the plaintiff was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident. However, the preliminary drug test given on the night of the accident only measured for the inactive metabolite of THC, rather than the active metabolite, which is what would impair a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle.

While the test was silent as to the presence of the active metabolite, the defendant wanted to call an expert witness to testify that, in his experience, when the level of inactive metabolite is as high as it was in the plaintiff’s blood, there is always active metabolite present as well. The expert would also testify that the plaintiff’s high blood pressure, fast heart rate, and amnesia supported the conclusion that he was under the influence of marijuana.

The court prevented the defendant’s expert from testifying about the plaintiff’s marijuana use. The court first explained that the physical symptoms on which the expert relied to claim that the plaintiff may have been under the influence of marijuana were just as likely caused by the physical trauma he had just suffered in the accident. Regarding the presence of the active metabolite, the court explained that the only test given did not indicate that there was any active metabolite present in the plaintiff’s blood, and it would be improper to allow the defendant’s expert to testify that, as a matter of fact, there would have been active metabolites in the plaintiff’s blood. Furthermore, the court noted that even if there were active metabolites in the plaintiff’s blood, the defendant could not prove that it affected the plaintiff’s operation of his vehicle.

Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of New Mexico truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated New Mexico personal injury lawyers at the Fine Law Firm have decades of experience helping their injured clients seek the compensation they need and deserve. We cater our representation to the needs of each client, and we make sure that we are responsive to clients’ questions and concerns. Call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today. Calling is free, and we will not charge you for our services unless we are successfully able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Recent Case Finds Truck Owner Vicariously Liable for Driver’s Negligence but Subject to Statutory Liability Maximum, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 5, 2017.

New Mexico Dirt Road Accidents, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 9, 2017.