Washington State Driver’s License Exam is Lengthened—Partially Thanks to Cannabis

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In the state of Washington, the cannabis scene is having a strong affect on its culture and even its state departments. Recently, cannabis has made its way into the exam you must take to get your driver’s license. Officials at the state licensing department are rolling out a longer written test, 40 questions instead of 25, this month. The test has been updated to include cannabis as a topic regarding rules and restrictions, and is the first major overhaul to the exam in decades.

“We wanted to add more information about impaired driving beyond the information about driving while intoxicated,” said Department of Licensing spokesman Brad Benfield. “With all the growth of cellphone use, we wanted to make sure that type of information was highlighted in the driver’s guide and test.”

The Smartphone additions to the test is due to the regulations demanded by the National Safety Council (NSC) nationwide, including a fine for reading a text message while driving, hiking up to $124.

“I think as times change, as risks change, we have to adapt,” the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board stated. “The advent of cell phones 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.”

According to an NSC report, there isn’t much evidence determining a link between driving while under the influence of cannabis and car accidents. A reported 567 people died in vehicle crashes in Washington last year, a 21 percent increase over 2014. Nationally, the increase was eight percent, but it hadn’t been attributed to cannabis. A representative from U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said that as the economy improves and more people buy vehicles, accidents are bound to increase.

In the updated driver’s license test, 80 percent is required to pass, as it was before. However, students will now need to get 32 of the 40 driver’s exam questions right to pass. The old test only had 25 questions.

The new tests will debut Monday August 15 for first-time license seekers and those with expired licenses.

An example question: “If you are under 21, you can be arrested for a THC/marijuana level of.”

Answer:  “more than 0.00 nanograms per milliliter of blood.”

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