Police lights

This driver had 54 times the legal limit of THC in his system, say Washington cops

"That number is not normal," says toxicology lab manager of lab result showing man had 270 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in his system

He’s allegedly the most pot-impaired driver to get pulled over in at least eight years.

The 53-year-old Lynnwood, Washington man had more than 54 times the legal limit of THC in his blood when he was stopped May 20 near the King-Snohomish county line.

Recently returned blood tests show the man had 270 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in his system. The legal limit for drivers 21 and older is five nanograms per milliliter of blood.

“That number is not normal,” said Brianna Peterson, lab manager at the Washington State Patrol toxicology lab. “It’s not something we typically see.”

She said the median amount of THC the lab tested in drivers last year was 3.7 nanograms.

The Lynwood man had the highest THC concentration tested at the state lab since at least 2009, Trooper Heather Axtman told KOMO, calling his intoxication a “dangerous situation.”

About 20 minutes before getting pulled over, the man was allegedly involved in a hit-and-run collision near Interstate 5 and 176th Street.

Witnesses called 911 and followed the man’s car until troopers arrived to take him into custody.
Snohomish County prosecutors have not yet filed criminal charges against the man.

Drivers who smoke marijuana before getting behind the wheel were involved in 91 out of 499 fatal crashes in the state in 2015, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

The year before, the State Patrol said 349 drivers pulled over tested positive for THC.

Authorities could not estimate how much marijuana the Lynwood man would have ingested to test that highly. THC usually cannot be detected through a blood test after 3 to 5 hours, and even chronic users would only build up 1 to 2 nanograms per milliliter, they said.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653
Information from: The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)