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Can I get Arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana?

  • September 1, 2017

    In some states, the use of marijuana is legal. However, even if this is the case, driving under the influence of the drug is considered unlawful – even in states where marijuana has been legalized. A marijuana DUI can cause you substantial penalties.

    The laws and the applicable punishment for driving under the influence of marijuana or a combination of other drugs or alcohol will vary from one state to another:

    In some states, the levels of marijuana in the system of the body of the driver do not matter. Any amount establishes that the driver is indeed under the influence of the drug.

    Meanwhile, there are states where a driver should go above a certain threshold specifically after a blood or urine test in order to be considered under the influence.

    In other states, the prosecutor should be able to prove that the driver was indeed under the influence based on behavior. It is the main determinant for being charged with DUI, regardless of the marijuana levels in the driver’s system.

    Additionally, the definition of driving will depend on the state. For instance, most states approve of a DUI charge even if the person is simply sitting in a motionless car. Nevertheless, being under the influence is mostly defined as the incapacity to drive safely because of the effects of a drug or alcohol.

    Under the Influence of Marijuana Defined

    For alcohol, the blood of the driver should contain a level of 0.08% by volume to be considered under the influence. If the amount measured is less, it is possible for the prosecutor to still say he or she is under the influence by pointing to the actions of the driver. Some states use a blood alcohol level threshold that is lower for minor drivers.

    Meanwhile, if marijuana is involved, states have a different approach toward it:

    Per se laws: There are some states that use per se laws for DUI. It means that any amount of marijuana found in the system of the driver’s body is considered to cause impairment in driving. If a person is charged with marijuana DUI, the prosecutor is not obligated to provide further evidence, such as the behavior of the driver.

    Blood or urine levels: Some states require the measurement of marijuana levels in the body just like with blood alcohol levels. Marijuana concentration is typically measured in nanograms per liter. There is no need for the prosecutor to give further evidence and there is no need for field sobriety tests as well.

    Some people are medical marijuana patients. There are 18 states that have legalized marijuana for medical use. It supports the consumption of the drug as long as the patient obeys the law concerning registration, amounts, and other regulations. However, even if this is the case, there is no state that allows a person to drive after consuming medical marijuana. The rules are strict, and they apply to patients who use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

    Penalties for Marijuana DUI

    Most of the time, if you are caught driving under the influence of marijuana, you will have to pay a fine. Sometimes, you will need to serve jail time and other times you will be brought to jail and still pay a fine. Many states impose a license suspension for a certain length of time. They may also require the driver to use an ignition interlock device, which compels the defendant to drive only when his or her breath is deemed clean after a breathalyzer test.

    The penalties will depend on the state where the DUI charge happened, but all states have a combination of any of the following to punish those who have been convicted:

    Fines

    Prison time

    Probation

    Community service

    Participation in a victim impact program

    Use of ignition interlock device

    Suspension of license

    Impoundment or forfeiture of car

    Participation in a drug and alcohol abuse program

    Home confinement or house arrest

    Most states determine the severity of the penalties based on whether or not the offense was the first. If it is a subsequent violation, the punishment is often worse than those who have committed DUI for the first time. Additionally, there are aggravating factors that could increase the penalty severity including driving while on a suspended license or a minor being the defendant.

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