DUI laws are rigidly strict to discourage the dangerous activity of impaired driving. While the statutes exist to primarily target alcohol use, they can be applied to other substances too. Marijuana is a common drug that gets implicated in DUI cases, and there are many ways its presence can affect one’s courtroom defense. This guide explores the nuanced regulations pertaining to cannabis use behind the wheel.
In some localities, marijuana use can constitute a DUI on its own, especially in regions where legalization has instructed police to treat the substance like alcohol. The severity of an arrest can be heightened by possession charges in areas where marijuana is still banned. Everything in the car is subjected to a formal inspection if a crime is suspected, so a DUI can incriminate marijuana use, and vice versa.
If marijuana is detected in conjunction with alcohol, any credible notion of perceived sobriety will be discarded out the window. Paraphernalia charges can also be tacked on, which does not usually happen with instances involving only alcohol. The scent of burnt cannabis can be used to warrant a search and seizure. This scenario inevitably leads to roadside tests.
Breathalyzer scans tend to focus solely on alcohol, so passing this informal test may eliminate the detection of marijuana in the system; however, reporting inebriation through this form of measurement can lead to thorough lab tests at the police station. Officers can use scientific analysis to pinpoint trace amounts of marijuana in the blood, urine or hair follicles.
Detection periods vary wildly due to the pace of personal metabolism; therefore, it is possible to be charged with a DUI despite the lack of consumption for a long time. Marijuana leaves residual chemicals in the urine for up to six weeks, and the blood can store proof of cannabis for a few months; meanwhile, the hair keeps an even longer record. This means charges can be filed for a substance that was consumed too long ago to have truly impaired judgment. Remember, overweight individuals are more likely to retain the active ingredients of marijuana in their blood stream, especially since its detectable compounds are stored in the body’s fat cells.
It is important to keep in mind that every jurisdiction has a tendency to treat marijuana a little differently. The variation between regions can range from minor to massive. With a DUI case, it can be the distinguishing factor between community service and time served. Also, underage intoxication will typically be prosecuted much more harshly. Committing a DUI alone is enough to earn a suspended license. When combined with marijuana, the situation can lead to permanent revocation.
The aforementioned rules do not just apply to motor vehicle operation. Some counties will subject cyclists to the same laws governing intoxication on the move. The main key to avoiding run-ins with the law is maintaining a knowledgeable awareness of local regulations. By adhering to all legal limits, it is possible to avoid every bit of strife associated with a DUI charge or conviction.