You can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of almost any substance. Even legally prescribed substances like painkillers can get you into trouble if they negatively affect you enough to cause impairment. Some people mistakenly believe that law enforcement has no means to test drivers for marijuana and thus that they are safe to drive after imbibing. Unfortunately, those drivers may be facing some stiff penalties for DUI as a result. To learn more about this type of DUI offense, read on.
Marijuana and Its Legality
Every year, more and more states legalize or reduce the penalties for marijuana. That issue, however, refers to the possession of the substance. Driving while impaired after using marijuana is against the law in all states, regardless of the way the substance itself is viewed by the ever-changing laws. It might be helpful to consider that although alcohol use is perfectly legal in all states, you can still be arrested for drunk driving.
When you are thinking about marijuana possession, you should know the laws of the state where you live. There are limits to how much you can possess at a given time and certain restrictions on how it is transported even in the states that are known to have loose possession laws. If you are thinking of driving under the influence of marijuana, you should consider how it impairs your ability to drive instead.
Reasonable Cause to Make the Stop
No matter what you are suspected of, law enforcement needs to have reasonable cause to make a traffic stop. It might be erratic driving, disobedience of a traffic law, or an equipment violation. Regardless of the reason for the stop, as long as they can show cause they can stop you and then arrest you for any number of offenses.
Reasonable Cause to Make the Arrest
When an officer suspects alcohol impairment, they can ask the driver to blow into a portable breathalyzer. Currently, no such device exists for testing a driver for the presence of the active ingredient in marijuana, however, which is tetrahydrocannabinol acid, or THC. Only a blood draw will produce legal proof of impairment. Often, the officer has reasonable cause, however, to perform some of the same field sobriety tests on these suspects as they do on those suspected of being under the influence of alcohol. Signs of impairment for marijuana include:
- The odor of marijuana in the vehicle or on the person.
- Slurred speech patterns.
- Poor driving as observed before the stop.
Surprisingly, the penalties for marijuana DUI charges are very similar to that of alcohol. Many of those arrested are shocked at how seriously the courts take this type of offense and liken it to alcohol offenses. This is nothing to take casually, so speak to a DUI attorney at once.