With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana use in Washington as well as other states, law enforcement has struggled with finding an effective form of testing for drivers who are driving under the influence.
As it currently stands, drivers are tested through things such as urine or blood testing to determine a 502 DUI (marijuana DUI). However, these tests are considered by some to be invasive and not entirely accurate. This is because blood and urine tests may show the presence of THC in the bloodstream days or weeks after cannabis was consumed.
This means that someone can consume marijuana days before being pulled over by a cop and still get a positive result on a THC test — even when the marijuana in their system is no longer affecting them.
Relying solely on blood and urine or saliva testing may lead to unjust legal penalties for a driver who consumed THC days before and is well past the point of being a dangerous driver.
If recreational marijuana use is something that you even occasionally do, it is vital to understand the driving laws regarding weed use as well as knowing how much cannabis is alright to consume and how long the THC will stay in your system.
I’m going to answer these questions and more in this article.
What Is THC?
First off, let’s talk about what THC is.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, if you prefer using tongue twisters, is the chemical found in cannabis that is responsible for causing the psychological effects of weed. It acts in a similar manner to cannabinoid chemicals that are produced naturally by the human body and affects receptors in the brain that are responsible for thinking, coordination, memory, pleasure, and more.
Having THC levels higher than what is allowed per milliliter of blood can impair judgment and pose a threat to yours and the safety of others if you choose to operate a vehicle before the THC has had time to leave your system.
What Happens If You Receive A DUI For Marijuana Use
If you are caught driving under the influence of marijuana with more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood, you may be subject to significant legal penalties such as a suspension of your license, large fines, and even jail time.
Each of these penalties will depend on a number of factors but has the potential to be extremely severe, so working with a criminal defense attorney is a wise choice for someone facing legal consequences in regards to cannabis.
How Are Drivers Tested For Cannabis Use?
Is roadside testing or breathalyzer testing a violation of your rights? Can you refuse to take a breathalyzer test or cannabis roadside test?
In Washington State, all drivers are subjected to implied consent law. Implied consent law states that the act of driving a vehicle means that you have consented to be tested by law enforcement officers should you be requested to do so.
This means that as soon as you take the driver’s seat you are making a conscious consent to being weed or breathalyzer tested should you be required to do so. Basically, if you are requested to perform a breathalyzer or blood test by a law enforcement officer, then you must comply.
Failing to comply with a breathalyzer or marijuana roadside test can result in increased jail time and license suspension upon conviction. The act of not complying with a breathalyzer or roadside weed test is known as “refusal.”
As it currently stands, if a driver is suspected to have used cannabis, an officer will use a field sobriety test on the driver in question. The driver’s blood and urine may also be tested but as this kind of testing allows for error showing any THC levels you have including from marijuana use a week ago, people are now turning to the invention of marijuana breathalyzers as a possible way forward.
What Is a Marijuana Breathalyzer?
Hound Labs is currently working on creating a marijuana breathalyzer that will accurately measure the amount of THC in suspicious drivers.
Using the cannabis breathalyzer device, the driver will blow twice into the tube located at the top of the breathalyzer. Two breaths are enough for the weed breathalyzer to measure the THC levels in picograms (or parts per trillion).
Having a breathalyzer that can accurately measure the levels of THC in drivers would significantly reduce the number of drivers who get unjustly charged with a DUI.
Dr. Mike Lynn, CEO, and founder of Hound Labs says that his cannabis breathalyzer is meant to detect THC levels when weed has been used within that couple hour window of the user being an impaired driver. A marijuana breathalyzer would be useful in distinguishing between those who have recently used weed and are still under the effects of THC and those who are safe to drive even though a small amount of THC may have appeared in a blood or urine test.
When Should You Seek Legal Help With Your DUI?
If you have failed a breathalyzer or roadside weed test and are facing DUI charges, you should seek out legal help immediately. Being charged with a DUI can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony depending on case variables and is not a legal situation that should be handled casually.
A DUI can affect and complicate your life significantly and should be handled by a legal professional who will be able to guide you through Washington State’s legal system.
If you have been charged with a DUI the first thing you should do is seek out the help of a reliable DUI or criminal defense attorney.
Find A Reliable DUI/Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Matthew Leyba, of Leyba Defense, has been working in the legal field for more than a decade and is recognized as one of the best DUI and criminal defense attorneys in Seattle.
If you have recently been charged with a DUI due to cannabis use, contact Leyba Defense to take control of your legal situation today.