As of 2017, 8 states have legalized recreational marijuana and many more are moving towards decriminalization and legal medical usage. With these new laws, the question of the law and driving while high on marijuana is up for debate.
What exactly does the law say about driving under the influence of marijuana? Can you get a DWI conviction for marijuana? How likely is a conviction for you?
We are going to answer all of those questions and more for you in this article.
Know the Law in Your State
Currently, the DWI laws for drugs vary greatly.
18 states have a zero tolerance law for drugs, including marijuana, to be in your system while you are driving. 5 states have certain THC limits for when operating a vehicle, similar to measuring your blood alcohol content for drunk driving.
However, the majority of states don’t have any laws specifically pertaining to driving while under the influence of marijuana. This makes a DWI conviction for marijuana difficult, since the law, and how to enforce it, is unclear.
Since many states are legalizing marijuana in some form, whether that is for recreational or medical use, they are beginning to draft new laws that address drug use and vehicle operation.
California, a state with legalized recreational pot, is creating a law stating that smoking while driving is punishable by a fine. Other states will likely follow this type of law, and many have laws prohibiting marijuana from being used in a car.
But the specific issue of a cannabis DWI conviction still remains ambiguous.
Understand How They Measure Marijuana Intoxication
Some of the difficulty of convicting someone for a marijuana DWI is that intoxication is difficult to measure. With alcohol, you can easily measure a person’s BAC to determine if they are above the legal limit.
Testing for marijuana intoxication isn’t so simple. THC, the component of pot that makes you feel “high”, stays in your body for weeks, even months, after you smoke. This means that you could test with a huge amount of THC in your body even if you aren’t high.
So even if you do the smart thing and avoid driving while impaired by cannabis, you could still test positive for intoxication if you have smoked in the recent months.
This makes things difficult for law and convictions. It’s hard to prove whether someone is actually high while they were driving, or if they happen to have THC in their system from another time.
Get a Good Lawyer
If you do happen to get pulled over and charged with driving under the influence, getting a lawyer should be your first step. Because the law on this topic is ambiguous and the science isn’t exact, getting pulled over and charged doesn’t mean that you’re guilty.
As L+G Attorneys point out, cannabis law is ambiguous and complex. Getting a lawyer who specializes in marijuana or drug law will help you win your case or at least lessen the punishment.
A DWI Conviction for Marijuana Can Be Avoided
The best way to avoid a DWI conviction is to not drive while you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Not only will this save you potential fines and even jail time, it is a huge safety risk to drive while impaired by drugs.
If you want to know more about these laws and safe driving, check out our blog. Be smart, drive safe, and get a good lawyer if it comes to that.