How the Legalization of Marijuana Will Affect DUIs

Marijuana and Car KeysAs many states are beginning to take an altered stance on marijuana, they’re also changing their perception what Driving Under the Influence entails. DUI’s don’t necessarily apply to just alcohol, a common misconception for many drivers, but also apply to other types of impairment.

So where does marijuana fall in the DUI category and how can you expect it to impact you?

A old Policy, a new Science

As the standard operating procedure goes for a DUI stop, a person is pulled over under the suspicion of driving under the influence. The officer then determines if alcohol is a factor, typically via use of a breathalyzer. However, now that marijuana use is becoming more commonplace due to looser standards by the state, if the officer still suspects impairment due to a controlled substance, he calls in a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) who, with special training and sobriety tests, determines if the person stopped is under the influence of another drug, in this case is high from marijuana.

While there’s no handy means of test for the presence of marijuana, such as the breathalyzer does for alcohol, a DRE can require a blood sample. Here’s where things start to become hazy. The problem with the blood sampling is that they’re not testing for hydroxy THC (the metabolite found in your body after imbibing) but rather for carboxy THC, which can remain in your system for close to a month.

What are the penalties for a DUI with Marijuana?

Similar to the punishments for other controlled substances in the state of Maryland, being caught driving under the influence of, in this case marijuana, can result in a string of undesirable consequences. Penalties can range from 60 days to 1 year in jail, between $500- $1000 in fines, and anywhere between 8-12 points on your license from the MVA. Much the same as a DUI involving alcohol, it’s something you want to avoid.

What should I do if I’m charged for a DUI with Marijuana?

As with any form of DUI or DWI charge, you should hire a lawyer. While the validity of the blood tests for marijuana are still being validated, that doesn’t mean that they can’t and won’t be used against you. Due to the policy of testing for carboxy THC (which is not indicative of impairment, only proof of imbibing) even if you weren’t impaired at the time you are pulled over you can still be charged for a DUI.

It’s important to understand that this is a serious matter, as a DUI, whether it be from alcohol or a controlled substance, can have long lasting and far reaching implications on both your life and livelihood. When it comes to going to court you’re going to need to have expert help in order to defend yourself. Now especially, as marijuana legalization is on the rise, many eyes are going to be turning to the courts and monitoring the outcome, including DUI offenses for marijuana.

It doesn’t matter what the substance is, a DUI always translates to the same thing, trouble. Don’t take the chance, hire a DUI defense attorney before it’s too late.

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. On his website, he discusses DUI law as well as drugs, guns and general criminal law in the state of Maryland.  He has numerous videos on these subjects and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.