DUI Laws for Drugged-Drivers Remain Blurred

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious charge that brings with it serious consequences, but some people are surprised to learn that a person doesn’t have to drink any alcohol at all to get a DUI. States also have laws related to driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs. These laws are becoming more important now that several states have legalized the use of marijuana. Unfortunately, the laws related to this type of DUI are still less than concrete.

Controversies surrounding DUI Marijuana

Most people understand that drinking and driving is a dangerous crime, and police officers have many tried and usually true methods of distinguishing whether or not a person is under the influence of alcohol. When a person is high on marijuana, however, it’s not quite as easy to decide whether they’re unsafe to drive or not. This has created numerous controversies surrounding the charge of DUI marijuana.

One huge disagreement that currently exists is whether or not the use of marijuana even hinders a person’s ability to drive safely or not. Regardless of the answer to this, it is still considered a crime. There is no breathalyzer or blood test that can definitively say “this person recently smoked marijuana”. This creates yet another controversy; if police can’t produce definitive chemical proof that a person is high, how can they prove DUI?

Testing for DUI Marijuana

Most states still consider marijuana to be an illegal substance; this means that a person arrested with weed is going to face charges regardless of whether or not they’re high at the time of arrest. It’s important to note, however, that many states do allow the use of the drug, but this doesn’t make it okay to drive while under the influence of it. The active ingredient in weed is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, and testing for current impairment is somewhat of a crapshoot.

As previously mentioned, there is no definitive test to show when a person is under the influence of marijuana. This makes it necessary for police to use other methods when determining impairment. Police will first note, just as in the case of alcohol related DUIs, a person’s driving pattern and physical appearance at the time of their stop. Erratic driving, bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and the smell of marijuana will go a long way in helping to secure a conviction.

In California, and other areas that have legalized weed, it is still necessary to perform chemical tests to ascertain whether a person is under the influence of marijuana. Unfortunately for police, THC can stay in a person’s blood long after they last used the drug. This means that officers must also perform typical field sobriety tests at the time of their stop. According to a DUI attorney Merced, California website, “Many times the FSTs are administered incorrectly, in an inappropriate setting or to an inappropriate candidate.”

Chemical tests are usually the strongest pieces of evidence in a DUI trial. This is simply not the case when it comes to DUI marijuana. Since a blood test or urinalysis will only prove that a person has smoked weed at some point recently, a prosecutor must add all of this circumstantial evidence up if they hope to obtain a conviction.

Driving under the influence of marijuana, though not scientifically proven to be dangerous, is a crime. Fortunately for many people charged with it, it is much more difficult for a prosecutor to prove than a normal alcohol related DUI. This means that anyone accused of the crime should seek experienced legal help. A recreational marijuana user will have THC in their system for at least a month after their last use; this gives an attorney a great chance at proving that their client wasn’t high at the time of arrest.

Author Shelby Warden writes articles to raise awareness of constitutional rights. The DUI attorney Merced, California Law Offices of Terry A. Wapner have the skills needed to provide aggressive representation to persons facing DUI charges. With extensive trial experience, their legal team can educate you on all the aspects of California DUI law and will vigorously fight to defend your rights.
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