Marijuana DUI—Is it Even a Thing?

With all of the recent legalizations of cannabis in different states, some might think that driving while high is legal. It’s not. Even in states with recreational legalization, driving while high will still get you a DUI. And if you do, they are hard to fight.

If you are arrested for driving while high, you will need legal representation as soon as possible after the arrest to minimize the damage. In fact, having a lawyer by your side is the best thing you can do to help your case if you’re charged with a marijuana DUI. There are points in the trial process that will allow you to fight to retain your right to drive, to fight the evidence presented against you, and to negotiate with prosecutors.

Administrative Law Hearings

One of the worst things that happen to people convicted of DUI is a license suspension. A suspension can force people into the choice of losing their job or driving to work illegally. Getting caught on a suspended license will only further add to your legal woes.

At an administrative law hearing, you can argue before the court about why you shouldn’t get your license suspended. Depending on your state, you may also be eligible to get special licenses that allow you to drive to and from work while suspended or while you are waiting for a hearing. Your attorney will be able to tell you what your options are.

However, if you ignore your opportunity to have an administrative law hearing, you may be stuck with a suspended license for years.

Evidentiary Hearings

Also known as pre-trial hearings, these are where a DUI lawyer really earns their salt. During evidentiary hearing, the prosecution presents their evidence to be examined before the court. The defense can then challenge the evidence to see if it can be dismissed prior to trial due to a technicality or because there is something wrong with the substance of the evidence.

The state has to prove that you were high and there are many ways the evidence can be challenged. In a marijuana case, for instance, a defense attorney may bring up the fact that their client has a prescription for DUI and that cannabis byproducts can last within the body long after the high is gone. This places whether or not you were DUI at the time of the arrest in doubt.

Even if the police they test for THC directly, which is still in preliminary stages, the amount and duration of the high are questionable. An edible product might take hours to kick in then last for several hours. A vaporizer can cause a high within five minutes and will only last for about 15 minutes. This makes it difficult to nail down a timeline for when you were too intoxicated to drive.

Plus, the laws for driving while high are murky in legalized states. Some states have a per se amount of THC that will automatically make a DUI charge stick, much like going over 0.08 BAC for alcohol. Others don’t but do say that if you drive erratically or dangerously while under the influence then that is evidence enough. This is an unclear area of law, so a DUI lawyer will have a lot of room to challenge evidence.

Pre-Trial Negotiation

Depending on the results of the evidentiary hearing, there may be a pre-trial negotiation to set up a plea deal. In order to avoid a trial, a prosecutor may offer lesser charges in exchange for a guilty or no contest plea. Your lawyer will negotiate with the prosecutor to gain the best terms possible, or insist that the case goes to trial depending on what has happened before this point.

If you live in a state that hasn’t legalized cannabis, then the penalties can be quite stiff. Without a lawyer on your side, it’s quite likely that this negotiation will not go well in your favor. You could even be facing mandatory minimum sentences.

Sometimes the evidence is too heavy and taking the plea deal is in your best interest. But not always. Your lawyer will be able to tell you whether or not an offer is worth it. However, it is up to you to decide whether or not to accept the deal.

Just because it’s legal in your area doesn’t mean that it’s legal to drive while high. If you are charged with being high while driving, hire a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. That’s your best defense against the many penalties of DUI conviction. 

About the Author

Michael Jacobs is a marketing and creative content specialist at GotVape.com with a primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined with healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points

One Comment

  1. Excellent article. Almost no one know about getting DUI, especially if we are talking about cannabis.
    Unfortunately the legal frontier between being high enough or not is not possible to tell – till cannabis becomes a normal issue of our lives as alcohol is.