In states where recreational cannabis use is legalized, what are the penalties for driving under the influence? Although you may be allowed to smoke or consume marijuana in your free time, it is still illegal to drive while impaired by its effects. THC in the blood has been found to impact driving abilities, including reaction times and motor control.
Can You Get a DUI for Marijuana?
Marijuana consumption may be legalized for recreation or medical use with a prescription in your state, but that does not mean it is legal for you to drive while under the influence of any mind-altering substance. If you take anything that impacts your judgement or reflexes, you could be convicted if you are pulled over or involved in an accident. In the U.S., a DUI for alcohol is issued when a person’s blood-alcohol content level is over the legal limit of 0.8 percent; some states have THC concentration levels for marijuana compounds in place to determine exactly what constitutes illegal impairment. In this case, a person whose THC level is over the legal limit could be charged with a DUI/DWI even if their driving abilities were not affected or did not contribute to any accident.
What if I Smoke for Medical Reasons?
Recreational cannabis and prescription medical marijuana are not the same thing. If you are using non-medicinal cannabis for pain relief or symptom management, then you should consider switching to medical marijuana instead. This can provide the same level of comfort without any of the psychoactive effects. CBD is the primary agent in medical cannabis, and the trace amounts of THC will not impair your driving the same way regular marijuana does. If you’re interested in finding an MMJ doctor in Pennsylvania, you can apply for free online. The process is straightforward, simple and doesn’t require any payments unless you are approved and use the service. Possessing a cannabis card can also help you avoid charges for unlawful possession if you live in a state where marijuana is only legalized for prescribed medical use.
What Evidence Does a Court Need?
Depending on your state laws, you may be convicted of a DUI if you are found to have a certain amount of THC in your system while driving. Others may require more evidence from a prosecutor that demonstrates significant impairment. This type of evidence may include the results of a drug test, a failed field sobriety test, erratic driving and recorded behavior typical of someone under the influence of marijuana such as slurred speech.
What Are the Penalties?
Each state sets its own penalties for marijuana DUIs, and the consequences you face would also depend on whether this is your first conviction and whether there were serious damages or injuries involved. Some possible penalties include a 90-day license suspension, fines ranging up to $2,000, mandatory substance abuse treatment and jail time up to a year. Penalties may be more lenient or harsh depending on any other convictions you’re facing and your criminal record. A DUI defense lawyer may be able to help lower jail sentencing or avoid jail time in lieu of parole, community service and rehab.