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New Washington Driver’s-License Exam to Tackle Pot Legalization



Driving, stoned driving

According to the Seattle Times, Washington State is overhauling its driver’s-license exam for the first time in decades, requiring new drivers to not only understand traffic laws, but also to have a knowledge of the risks associated with smartphones and the legalization of pot.

“I think as times change, as risks change, we have to adapt,” said Deborah Hersman, the president and CEO of the National Safety Council (NSC). “The advent of cellphones is not something I had to deal with when I was learning how to drive; they just weren’t available. With legalization of marijuana, it’s a sign of the times of what’s happening and what puts people at risk.”

“If you are under 21, you can be arrested for a THC/marijuana level of…” is just one example of the type of new question test takers can expect to find. The answer—”more than 0.00 nanograms per milliliter of blood”—is something every new driver will be expected to know. 

While research about the risks of stoned driving is still in its early stages, reports have shown that THC blood levels do not reliably indicate impairment. However, any type distraction can prove hazardous for new drivers.

“They [teens] are just not good drivers, they’re new drivers,” Hersman said. “They’re learning a new skill, and adding any distractions is something we know takes away from people’s capacity to process what’s going on.”