The Potholes of Marijuana DUI Cases

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Weed, grass, pot, maryjane…These are many common names for marijuana.

Washington passed Initiative 502 in November of 2012, which legalized marijuana. However, there are still Washington statutes (or in other words – laws) that criminalize marijuana. One is RCW 69.50.4014, which makes it a crime for any person to be in possession of forty grams or less of marijuana. Another law, RCW 46.61.502(b), criminalizes a person, if within two hours of driving, a person has a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher.

So what does this law mean for those charged with a marijuana DUI?

  1. Violation of Privacy Rights
    Well, your privacy rights could come into question. For example, in some instances, if a driver is suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana, Courts may allow officers to collect a blood sample without a warrant. For this to occur though, the City is held to a high standard – they must show by clear and convincing evidence that obtaining a warrant would have significantly delayed collection a blood sample. [1]
  2. Post-Sentencing Punishment for Marijuana Consumption
    Further, although marijuana is legal, courts could still punish you after you’ve been sentenced for consuming marijuana. Many times, as a condition of a guilty conviction, the Judge will order no possession or consumption of marijuana or drugs. If you are in treatment and have a positive UA for marijuana, the judge could then punish you for using marijuana.
  3. Jail Time and Fines
    Just like an alcohol DUI, if convicted of a marijuana DUI, you could be facing up to 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine.

Aside from these 3 issues, there are many other problems that can come from being charged with a DUI for marijuana. However, there may be a silver lining.

Police officers still “don’t have the equivalent of a reliable alcohol breathalyzer or blood test — a chemically based way of estimating what the drug is doing in the brain. Though a blood test exists that can detect some of marijuana’s components, there is no widely accepted, standardized amount in the breath or blood that gives police or courts or anyone else a good sense of who is impaired.”[2]

That’s were a DUI criminal defense attorney can help. A DUI attorney will analyze the police methods and testing and find the flaws with the prosecution’s case.

Contact Horwath Law today for your consultation.

[1] City of Seattle v. Pearson, 192 Wn. App.802 (2016).