In the past decade, marijuana-related laws have received second looks from lawmakers around the country, including in Texas. So far, recreational marijuana use is legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia, but not in the Lone Star State.

While our states may not be in complete legal agreement on the recreational use of marijuana, they do have at least one related issue in common. In every state, it remains illegal to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by marijuana. In Texas, DWI laws apply to drivers impaired by drugs such as marijuana.

How does marijuana affect drivers?

THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — affects your brain in many ways. Your balance, coordination, movement, memory and judgment often become distorted. Memory loss and difficulty in problem-solving are not uncommon. Obviously, these are not good characteristics to have when behind the wheel. Using marijuana can affect your ability to make decisions as well as slow your reaction time.

Since many people arrested for DWI while using marijuana also are simultaneously imbibing on alcohol, it is difficult to distinguish which vice led to the impairment. This is why it is difficult for authorities to enforce and prosecute charges related to marijuana use and DWI.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is one of many organizations trying to understand how marijuana affects drivers. One of its studies noted that marijuana users have a higher probability of being in motor vehicle accidents. However, the organization admitted that this increased risk of crashes may be attributed to the fact that marijuana use is popular among younger men, a group well known for having higher risks of motor vehicle accidents.

If arrested for impaired driving due to the effects of marijuana, be careful what you say to law enforcement officers. Do not implicate yourself, but also understand the consequences you face.