Just about everybody with a driver’s license understands the laws about drunk driving. Many states have now legalized the recreational and/or medical use of marijuana, so it’s important that people understand the laws about drugged driving too. That’s because you can be arrested for driving under the influence of any drug (DUID), even if it’s prescribed by a doctor or purchased legally over-the-counter. A 2015 report from the Governors Highway Safety Association found that drugged driving surpassed drunk driving in the number of fatal crashes. Incidents of drugged driving continue, and they’re expected to continue to increase as more states legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
Marijuana and the Legal Limit
THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. In states where the recreational use of marijuana is permitted, a person can be charged with DUI if he or she is operating a motor vehicle with five or more active nanograms of active THC in their blood. Regardless of how much THC a person has in their blood, a police officer is also allowed to make an arrest based on any impaired behavior that he or she might observe.
Implied Consent Laws
Every state has some form of an implied consent law. If a police officer makes a traffic stop and has reason to believe that the driver is under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two, the officer can ask that driver to submit to chemical testing. If the driver refuses testing, their driver’s license may be suspended immediately. If the officer wants to procure a blood testing, a search warrant is required. Several states do allow officers to obtain search warrants and continue to administer the test regardless of whether the individual consents or not.
Drugs Commonly Involved in DUID Cases
Of course, any law enforcement agent will likely be looking for signs of alcohol or marijuana use after making a traffic stop. Other drug use that law enforcement might evaluate a driver for in a DUID stop include:
- Over-the-counter drugs
If a police officer believes that a person might be driving under the influence of drugs, a law enforcement drug recognition expert (DRE) might be called to the scene for purposes of evaluating the driver. A DRE has special training in identifying when somebody is under the influence of drugs. Like field sobriety tests in a DUI, a driver isn’t required to cooperate in being evaluated by a DRE.
The fact that you might have drugs in your blood doesn’t necessarily mean that you were under the influence while operating a motor vehicle. There are many possible defenses for a DUID charge. In fact, an experienced DUI or DWI lawyer DC trusts could tell you that DUID cases sometimes have more viable defenses than drunk driving cases.
There are two sides to every story, so don’t hesitate to contact a local law firm if you have any questions about DUI or DUID charges.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into drugged driving cases.