How States Deal With Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana

Posted on: 17 July 2015

What does it mean to be driving under the influence of marijuana? Well, there isn't a single answer to this question, because states have different laws for cannabis intoxication and driving. There are three main ways in which states deal with driving while intoxicated with marijuana. In some states, you may be arrested for driving while intoxicated with marijuana if:

You Have Any Amount Of The Drug In Your System

This means just what is says – you are deemed to be under the influence of marijuana as long as traces of the drug can be found in your system. States that have this law are known as zero-tolerance-law states. In such places, even a billionth of a gram (of the main active chemical THC) per milliliter of your blood is viewed to be illegal.

In practical terms, you may be arrested and charged with DWI as long as you have used even a little marijuana. In fact, this means you may be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana even if you had used the drugs several days before. This is possible because the drug can take several days to dissipate from your system.

Your THC Level Is Above A Certain Threshold

While in zero-tolerance states anything above zero may get you arrested, other states have higher thresholds for their drivers. A good example is the Washington State, which has a limit of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. In this case, you are presumed to be driving under the influence of marijuana if your drug limit exceeds this level.

Your Behavior Suggests Impairment

Lastly, there are a few states that do not rely on the level of THC in your blood, but rather on your behavior when stopped by the traffic police. In such states, behaviors that suggest impairment may get you arrested and convicted even if you only have traces of the drug in your system.

Examples of such behaviors include:

  • Driving erratically  
  • Increased response time
  • Leaving unsafe distance between your car and the one in front

As you can see, what may be permissible in your state may get you arrested and convicted in another state. Therefore, you ought to know your state's laws (or the laws of the state in which you have been arrested) before mounting your defense. Of course, the best way to do this is to hire a DWI attorney who has a thorough understanding of all these laws already. Click here for more information.