DC Marijuana DUI Lawyer

Although the possession of marijuana for personal use was legalized in DC in 2015 and now allows individuals over the age of 21 to possess under two ounces, it remains illegal for anyone to drive while under the influence of this substance. In fact, the DC legislature has specifically addressed the issue of driving under the influence of marijuana to ensure that a person could still be charged with a DUI as long as there is evidence that the person was under the influence of marijuana at the time that they were driving. Due to this fact, those who are convicted of driving while under the influence of marijuana may face serious penalties including fines and potentially time in jail, warranting contact with a DC marijuana DUI lawyer. An experienced DUI drug lawyer can assist both in preparing those who are accused for what to expect, and compiling witnesses and other evidence to build a strong defense.

DUI Marijuana Laws

The criminal charge of driving under the influence of marijuana is the same charge as driving under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drug. The charges are still considered to be a misdemeanor and the maximum and minimum penalties are the same for driving under the influence of marijuana as they would be for driving under the influence of alcohol or an illegal drug.

The possible penalties a person could face for a first offense driving under the influence of marijuana is 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. While a person would not face any mandatory jail time or any mandatory fine it is imperative that a marijuana DUI lawyer in DC is contacted to mitigate the damage.

Impact of Marijuana Legalization

The legalization of the personal possession of marijuana does not impact the criminalization of driving under the influence of marijuana. A person can still be arrested and charged with driving under the influence if there is evidence that the driver was impaired to any appreciable degree by the consumption of marijuana, either through smoking or ingesting it.

Difference Between Marijuana and Alcohol DUI Cases

The evidence that police will need to gather in a case where they suspect a person of driving under the influence of marijuana is often very different from the evidence they would gather for driving under the influence of alcohol. Unlike driving under the influence of alcohol, a person who is alleged to be under the influence of marijuana may not exhibit the same mannerisms or the same clues of impairment as a person who is alleged to have consumed alcohol recently. The smell of marijuana on a person may not necessarily correlate with recent consumption of marijuana, as compared with the smell of alcohol on the person’s breath being very likely to suggest recent consumption of alcohol.

Also, certain field sobriety tests which may result in clues of impairments in a DUI-alcohol case may not be apparent in a DUI-marijuana case. As an example, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which searches for involuntary vibrations in a person’s eyes, could present clues as a result of alcohol consumption. However, it would not be a useful test when it comes to an allegation of recent consumption of marijuana.

Additionally, the breath, urine, and blood tests may not be as reliable for DUI marijuana as for DUI alcohol. While alcohol will only remain in a person’s bloodstream for as long as they are impaired, marijuana may remain in a person’s bloodstream or urine for several days or even possibly weeks after a person has consumed it. This means that there may not be a direct correlation between the presence of THC in a person’s blood or urine, and that person’s level of impairment at the time that they were driving their vehicle.

What Needs to be Proven

In a DUI marijuana case, a prosecutor would still need to prove that a driver was in physical control of the vehicle and that at the time that they were in physical control of the vehicle, they were impaired to an appreciable degree by the consumption of marijuana.

That means that the marijuana was impairing that person’s ability to operate the vehicle in a way that is noticeable, compared to the abilities of a person who had not consumed that substance.

Importance of a DC Marijuana DUI Lawyer

Marijuana DUIs can be very different from alcohol DUIs. The evidence can be different, the indicators of impairment can be different, and the manner in which police obtain evidence against the driver could also be different.

As a result, a marijuana DUI attorney in DC needs to be familiar with these differences between marijuana DUIs and alcohol DUIs in order to establish a solid defense to help the defendant fight the charges. In many situations marijuana DUIs can be much more difficult for a prosecutor to prove, and so it is important for a DUI attorney to be familiar with those difficulties, and know how to establish reasonable doubt in order to be able to secure a positive outcome in a DUI marijuana case.