What You Need to Know A Marijuana DUI
In Washington, you can get a DUI even if you did not drink any alcohol once it has been determined that you are under the influence of drugs like marijuana. If you are facing marijuana DUI charges, it is important that you understand the following information.
Level of THC Impairment
Washington state has very specific guidelines regarding finding a person legally intoxicated. This is based on a person’s blood alcohol content, which must be 0.08 percent or greater. This is called the “per se” limit, meaning that a person is presumed by law to be intoxicated if he or she has a blood alcohol content at this rate.
Similarly, Washington has a per se limit regarding the amount of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. If a person who is 21 or older has 5 nanograms/milliliter of THC in his or her blood, he or she is considered impaired. If a person is under 21, any amount of THC can result in a marijuana DUI charge.
Under the Influence of Marijuana
However, a person with less than 5 nanograms/milliliter of THC can still be arrested for marijuana DUI if he or she is found to be driving a vehicle while under the influence or affected by any drug. If the driver is impaired, he or she can face drug charges regardless of the concentration of THC in his or her blood.
Detection of THC
To test a person for alcohol, a breath test is usually conducted. However, THC can only be detected by testing the blood or urine of a suspect. It is often difficult to accurately test for an illegal amount of THC. There is not currently a reliable field test to assess THC limits like there is with the Breathalyzer machine.
Just like with alcohol, there can be a delay in how the body absorbs THC over time. If there is a delay between the time of being stopped and testing the body for THC, there is a greater likelihood that the level of THC will be much different at these two points in time. Therefore, a person may not have been impaired while driving but may have become impaired while in police custody.
Lack of Connection between BAC and THC
Some researchers argue that there is little connection between the level of THC and the per se BAC impairment level. They argue that the 5 nanograms threshold is not backed by scientific research. Prosecutors may find it difficult to prove that a person is impaired by marijuana.
Research indicates that marijuana has a greater effect on cognitive abilities, so standard field sobriety tests which primarily gauge the ability to perform physical acts may not be a reliable measure of impairment.
Additionally, the signs of impairment are also different for people affected by THC compared to people affected by example. Common signs of alcohol impairment include slurred speech, slower reaction time, and uncoordinated movements. Those impaired by marijuana may not show signs of this nature or any signs at all. Additionally, one person may be more greatly affected by smoking or consuming marijuana products while another may not be affected at all, even if they both have the same BAC or THC.
Hire a DUI Attorney for a Marijuana DUI
If you are facing marijuana DUI charges, it is important that you contact an attorney knowledgeable about impairment caused by drugs.
A DUI lawyer can determine the legal arguments designed to help get the charges dismissed against you or the penalties reduced.
Contact Bugbee Law Office at 509-337-5082.