Understanding DUI Charges Associated With Marijuana Use

DUI charges often result in life-changing repercussions that can damage career and personal goals. The severity of the charges has not reduced the nearly 200,000 cases that appear throughout many regions each year. Consuming alcohol is not the only way drivers end up with a DUI. Driving while under the influence of marijuana can result in these charges as well. Many drivers are unaware about the risk of driving while intoxicated by marijuana and the resulting serious charges that can occur.

Marijuana Impairs the Mind

Confusion about the risks of marijuana use, especially while driving, arises from legalization campaigns at the state, not federal, levels. Despite legalization arguments, the fact remains that marijuana, like alcohol, impairs people’s ability to drive safely. The DUI statutes clearly describe the risk of driving after consuming a mild-altering drug. Consumption includes smoking marijuana or ingesting edibles made with the active ingredients. Officers must determine if the driver exhibited impaired mental abilities that affected their ability to drive cautiously.

A Look at Traditional Impairment Tests

Unlike alcohol, officers do not have an easy way to determine the driver’s level of intoxication from marijuana. Impairment often depends on the driver’s tolerance levels, amount of marijuana consumed and time elapsed since the drug was used. The guidelines for alcohol are much more clear cut and easy to understand. Furthermore, officers can use a time-honored field sobriety test to measure driver’s intoxication levels. The field sobriety test measures driver’s ability to complete coordinated actions, like standing on one leg, keeping a steady gaze and pressing a finger to the nose. Officers can also order urine or blood tests that confirm the initial findings.

Exploring Tests for THC

The tests for marijuana are not as easy to decipher, especially in this time of change. Officers initially use their nose to detect the smell of burnt marijuana in the vehicle or on the driver. A search for drug paraphernalia with signs of recent use also help officers determine if the driver is under the influence. Field sobriety tests can assist the officer in determining the driver’s level of impairment. Unfortunately, marijuana levels do not scale well with body weight and can be thrown off by excess fat stores. Regular users can show high levels of THC in their body without recent consumption of marijuana. This buildup makes it difficult to rely on the blood and urine tests for accurate detection.

The Risks of Marijuana Related DUIs

Although officers cannot clearly detect marijuana use with current testing methods, driving under the influence of this drug is incredibly dangerous. Studies of serious collisions indicate that drivers under the influence of marijuana are nearly twice as likely to crash their vehicle as sober drivers are. Furthermore, the likelihood of a severe injury or fatality is increased. As a result, lawmakers continue to push for more comprehensive DUI laws to keep the public safe while on the road.

DUI Charges Impact Lives

Even if officers stop impaired drivers before a collision occurs, the resulting DUI charges can seriously disrupt their goals in life. In many jurisdictions, the charges come with a severe punishment, including years of probation, suspended license and extensive fines and fees. Drivers must pay these fees before regaining their license and ability to drive on public roads.

Mitigating the Impacts

Drivers charged and convicted of marijuana related DUIs feel the effects well into the future. Increased insurance payments and a loss of confidence on the road may impact driver’s ability to pilot a vehicle without worry. Luckily, drivers can complete a defensive driving course to improve their confidence and skills behind the wheel. Furthermore, traffic school completion often earns drivers a discount on their auto insurance while could mitigate the monthly premium increase caused by the DUI. Drivers may even learn that their participation in driving school reduces the number of points on their record. In the end, it is incredibly beneficial to complete driver training for both personal and financial reasons.