As the use of medical marijuana becomes more widespread and states legalize recreational use, legislators and law enforcement officials are faced to answer the question of how to curb stoned driving without a breathalyzer test. In addition to not having a precise determination of how much THC actually impairs driving, officers do not have a test they can use to determine blood levels of THC. Research also shows that THC can show up days after smoking, when the user is no longer high.
This legal question has left many medical marijuana patients struggling, even in fear that they may be charged with driving under the influence. Some states have set very low thresholds, including Colorado where a driver can be charged for driving with 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood of THC. As many users and drivers know, this criminal charge could leave them without a license. Our Birmingham DUI attorneys are experienced in providing strategic counsel and advocacy to individuals who are facing DUI charges. We have in-depth experience in Alabama’s criminal justice system and are committed to raising awareness to protect the rights of our clients. In the matter of marijuana DUI, it is important for drivers to be cautious about the legal uncertainties in Alabama and nationwide.
Medical marijuana is used to treat a variety of conditions, ranging from epilepsy to cancer-related pain, vertigo or nausea. Patients who have a legal prescription may depend on the constant source of relief that medical marijuana can provide. Unfortunately, because THC can remain in the bloodstream long after a user is high, it is not unlikely that innocent drivers will be pulled over and charged with DUI. While the legalities are playing out in Colorado, Alabama drivers should be aware of future implications of driving while on THC and the potential criminal liabilities when driving out of state.
One of the problems with curbing marijuana DUIs is that there is no breathalyzer. Unlike alcohol-blood alcohol testing, the THC test only shows whether you have been using in the last 24-48 hours, not whether you are actually impaired. This leaves officers unable to determine which drivers are actually “under the influence” and users don’t have any guideposts for when they should or should not get behind the wheel. For some drivers, a half a joint may impair driving, for others smoking off a bong may put them “over the limit.” Unlike alcohol, marijuana doesn’t metabolize in a predictable way. This means that every individual will be impaired at a different level. Though the crime for alcohol and drug driving impairment are charged the same, prosecutors will likely be far less successful pursuing under the influence charges against marijuana users who hire experienced legal help.
While Colorado sorts through the difficulties of testing for DUI-marijuana impairment, Alabama drivers should be wary that any amount of trace THC can result in a DUI charge. An experienced advocate can review your case, assess evidence presented by law enforcement and work to minimize charges and penalties.