What About Marijuana DUI Arrests?

Posted on: 14 May 2019

A driving under the influence (DUI) charge for using alcohol is distressingly commonplace, but what about being under the influence of marijuana? There is no doubt about that you can be arrested for being under the influence of marijuana while driving, even when you are not in possession of any. Just like a DUI for alcohol charge, there are rules about what constitutes impairment, regardless of the way you got there. Read on for some further information about this type of offense.

But Isn't Marijuana Legal Now?

More and more states and cities are legalizing marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, but you must remember that alcohol is also legal in all states and thousands are arrested for alcohol-related DUI charges every day. If you are found to be in possession of marijuana, the way your location treats this drug is pertinent. If you are found to be under the influence of it based on the law, it really doesn't matter what the laws about possession say because you might be too impaired to safely drive a vehicle.

Testing Marijuana Impairment

On the other hand, possession of marijuana does not automatically mean you are under the influence of it. If the use of it is legal in your location, there are often strict rules about where and how it can be transported in your vehicle. Whether you have any with you at the time of your stop or not, if the law enforcement officer suspects that you are under the influence of any substance, they have the right to perform field sobriety tests and even more.

The Presence of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)

Just as the presence of alcohol in the blood can be measured, so can the presence of the active ingredient in marijuana THC. Since there is not, at the present, a roadside method for determining the presence of THC in the bloodstream of drivers as there is with portable breathalyzers, blood tests are needed to confirm intoxication. With probable cause, you can be arrested and taken to a medical facility where a warrant is used to obtain a blood sample for THC testing. To gain probable cause, field sobriety tests are used – usually the same ones used to test intoxication from alcohol. In addition, law enforcement looks for symptoms like:

  • Slurred speech.
  • Poor driving skills.
  • The odor of marijuana.
  • Lethargy and unusual behaviors.

Conviction Penalties

You will usually find the punishment for being under the influence of marijuana are exactly like those of alcohol-related DUI penalties. That can mean fines, license suspensions, jail in some cases, orders to attend drug counseling, and probation.

Just like a DUI for alcohol, this type of arrest is serious and has serious consequences. Speak to a criminal defense attorney about your case.


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