Due to changes in public opinion, laws related to the possession and consumption of marijuana have been rapidly evolving all over the nation. However, one thing that remains the same in all fifty states is that you can be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence states that marijuana is second only to alcohol as the drug most consumed in association with a DUI. A DUI conviction of any kind can seriously damage your reputation and your continued ability to drive. You may have difficulty obtaining car insurance, and you will pay much more for it if you do. If you've been charged with driving while high on marijuana, you will need a competent marijuana defense attorney who is experienced in these matters. Here are some factors you will want to consider.
The DUI Laws in Your State
While it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in all states, the definition of the term does differ from state to state. Your state may determine your ability or inability to drive based solely on the amount of THC in your blood or urine. Some states consider you under the influence with any THC in your system at all. This can be problematic as, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, THC can be detected in your body for weeks after you've consumed it.
Some states can charge you with a DUI for simply sitting in a car while you have certain levels of THC in your body, while other states require the arresting officer to prove you are exhibiting behavior consistent with someone who is too high to drive.
Your attorney will be able to explain the laws in your state.
Testing for THC
If a police officer suspects you are under the influence of marijuana, there are several steps that the officer will take. These will vary by state, but in general the officer will observe your behavior and appearance. An officer may look for dilated pupils and a rapid heart rate. You may also be asked to take a Field Sobriety Test, where you are required to perform tasks like walking a straight line or placing a finger to your nose.
If the officer thinks you are driving under the influence of marijuana, you may be asked to take a blood or urine test.
An experienced DUI attorney understands that these tests can be deceptive and cannot actually detect when the THC was consumed.
Also, because of human error, the officer's assessment of your behavior may also have been flawed. An attorney will be able to show that there are many other legal reasons why you exhibited behaviors consistent with being under the influence of marijuana. Even the stress of being pulled over and subjected to such intense evaluation can lead to potentially suspicious behaviors.
An attorney who understands DUI laws and procedures may be able to have your DUI charge changed to a different crime, such as driving erratically or being distracted while driving. These charges may result in fines, driver's education requirements, or points on your license, but you will avoid the heavy consequences of a DUI conviction.
Being charged with a DUI while under the influence of marijuana is very serious, and it can be frightening to know that you could be facing jail time as well as potential harm to your reputation. With such serious consequences possible, you will want to seek the help of an attorney who is experienced in marijuana cases and is knowledgeable about the specific laws in your state.