Since one ounce of personal marijuana was legalized by Proposition I-502 in 2012, it seems as though the rate of marijuana DUIs and marijuana related car crashes have increased. According to a study by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (“WTSC”), the number of drivers involved in deadly crashes who tested positive for marijuana increasing 48 percent from 2013 to 2014. According to the agency, more than 1,100 people have died in impaired driving incidents from 2008-2014. The highest percentage of these deaths occurs during the summer months, with the largest increase in THC-positive drivers amongst males in the age group of 21-25.
However, just testing positive for marijuana doesn't necessarily indicate if a driver was actually affected by the drug at the time of the crash since marijuana can be detected in a person's blood for days (possibly weeks) after a person uses the drug, according to the WTSC news release. As a result, enforcement officials now test for active THC. According to the WTSC study, the number of drivers testing positive for active THC is up to 65 percent of drivers tested in 2014.
Marijuana DUIs in Washington State
It is important to note that driving under the influence of marijuana is still considered a DUI under the state law. Washington's DUI statute, RCW 46.61.502, prohibits driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or “any drug.” While alcohol-related DUIs are the most common forms of DUIs, you may still be arrested and charged with a DUI while being under the influence of marijuana, meth, cocaine, or even cough medicine. The statute does not distinguish between substances.
In Washington, the per se legal limit of THC you may have in your system is 5 ng/ml. However, those suspected of marijuana DUIs must be investigated differently than those suspected to be past the 0.08% legal limit for alcohol. If the officer who pulled you over suspects you were under the influence of something other than alcohol, another officer with some extra training in drug recognition, a so called “drug recognition expert” (DRE), may be called to the scene. S/he will examine you and if s/he thinks you are under the influence, you will likely be arrested to have your blood tested. Refusing to have your blood tested is the equivalent to refusing the BAC test for alcohol, meaning you will automatically lose your license for a year and the refusal may be used against you in court.
Conviction of a marijuana DUI carries the same penalties as a normal DUI. However, it is important to note that being charged with a Marijuana DUI is usually based on an officer's subjective opinion. A skilled attorney will be able to challenge this opinion.
Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Everett, King County, Snohomish County, Skagit County, Whatcom County and Kittitas County Area VUCSA and DUI Lawyer
Seattle criminal defense lawyer Steve Karimi has defended many serious drug charges, marijuana DUIs, and DUIs. As a former prosecutor, he has the experience to be able to provide aggressive legal defenses for a variety of VUCSA crimes, DUIs, marijuana DUIs, and felony trafficking charges. Marijuna DUIs are still DUI's and are nothing to joke about. They can lead to serious life consequences such as a criminal record, tarnished reputation, decreased employment opportunities, and academic opportunities. In many cases, Mr. Karimi is able cases dismissed in the Snohomish County Courts, as well as getting charges off your records. If you have been charged with a drug or substance-related crime in the greater Seattle area, contact the law offices of Steve Karimi today or call 206-621-8777 to schedule a free initial consultation.