What is a Marijuana DUI?
The passage of Initiative 502 in 2012 essentially changed Washington State Marijuana laws in three ways. First, it removed prohibitions against producing and selling marijuana. Secondly, it made possession of it legal for people over 21 years old. Lastly, it added an amendment to DUI laws that established a legal limit for THC blood concentration of 5 ng/mL making marijuana DUIs much easier to prosecute and enforce in my opinion. Due to these changes in the law, it is imperative to hire an experienced Seattle DUI Lawyer to defend you against these charges.
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What happens after a Marijuana DUI arrest
After an arrest for a Marijuana DUI or “Green DUI” as they are commonly referred the suspect is transported to a hospital. There they are asked to voluntarily provide a blood sample. Like an alcohol related DUI, they can either choose to provide a sample or refuse to the blood test. If provided, the sample is sent to the Washington State Toxicology Laboratory and analyzed by a Toxicologist. Those results can take anywhere from 1-3 months to get back. Depending on the volume of cases at the Toxicology lab, and the order the sample is received. Once those results come back they are sent to the appropriate Prosecutors Office.
If you have been arrested for a Marijuana DUI then you will most likely be contacted a couple months after the DUI arrest and given notice to appear at your arraignment. If you have not spoken with a DUI Attorney at this point, it is in your best interests to speak to one now so you can have representation at your arraignment.
Depending on your criminal history and the facts of the case, Marijuana DUI cases are seeing a higher imposition of bail than a normal alcohol related DUI, which has alternatives to confinement a Judge can impose. Unlike an alcohol related DUI, Marijuana DUI cases are not generally offered ignition interlock device conditions or electronic home monitoring since there is no way to monitor for Marijuana use. Seattle DUI Lawyer Matthew Leyba has successfully argued against bail and ignition interlock requirements in every court in King, Pierce, and Snohomish County at arraignment hearings.
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What are the penalties for Marijuana DUI
The mandatory minimum penalties for a Marijuana DUI arrest in Washington State are essentially the same as an alcohol related offense with some exceptions. These penalties vary depending on a person’s criminal history and whether they have been convicted of a DUI in the past. Generally, an individual charged with a Marijuana DUI face:
- 1 day in jail up to 364 days
- $944.50 up to $5000 fine
- 90-day license suspension up to 4 years
- 5 years of probation
- Chemical dependence assessment and any follow-up treatment
What are the evidential concerns with a Marijuana DUI arrest
Probably the biggest concern is how in the heck did the State come up with this number of 5 ng/mL? The problem is unlike an alcohol DUI where there is uniformity among the other 49 States and a general consensus in the scientific community of exactly what level impairs a person’s ability to drive, there is no such thing dealing with Marijuana. In fact prior to the passage of I-502 a Marijuana DUI was relatively easy to fight due to the differing of opinions of what level impairs an individuals ability to drive, and what level doesn’t.
Now it is a per se level, meaning if you’re at that level you’re presumed to be impaired. In other words, the prosecution only has to show that your blood results were 5 ng/mL and they get a conviction. Unlike before there is no speculating as to whether that particular individual was impaired, or challenging the level found in the blood test and whether that affected a person’s ability to drive. In my opinion, as a Seattle DUI Lawyer, this level is entirely too low, and based on studies I have seen if you’re a regular user of Marijuana you can be at this level days after your last smoke.