Bryan Cohen Apr. 9, 2013, 6:06pm

HELENA, Mont. (Legal Newsline) - Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced Tuesday that Gov. Steve Bullock signed a bill into law to establish a standard for tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, impairment for drivers.

Bullock signed HB 168 into law on Friday, a bill that was a top priority for Fox and Montana's law enforcement community. The bill, sponsored by Rep. David Moore (R-Missoula), improves the safety of Montana's highways by establishing a THC impairment standard for all drivers. THC is the physiologically active component of marijuana.

Before the signing of the bill, only medical marijuana cardholders were required to abide by a limit of five nanograms per milliliter of THC in their blood. There was no standard set for drivers who used marijuana illegally.

Marijuana-related motor vehicle accidents and deaths in Montana are on the rise. In 2012, there were 218 crashes involving THC and alcohol. The number was up from 175 crashes in 2011 and 126 crashes in 2010.

"Reducing fatalities on our roadways is of the utmost importance to the Montana Department of Justice," Fox said. "This new law will help save lives by discouraging people from getting behind the wheel when impaired. It will also give Montana's prosecutors the tools to punish those who endanger innocent citizens through impaired driving."

Rep. Moore said Fox's office, the State Crime Lab, county attorneys and Montana's law enforcement community were instrumental in making the legislation into a law.

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