The Unique Challenges of a Marijuana DUI

According to a 2015 National Roadside Survey, 12.6% of randomly selected U.S. drivers sampled on a particular weekend tested positive for Marijuana, based on blood-THC level measurements. Considering these numbers, marijuana is unsurprisingly on average the most common “Drugged Driving” (or “DUID”) charge that Virginia drivers receive. DUID refers to DUI charges (excluding those received while driving under the influence of alcohol) and can include everything from prescription drugs (Ambien, for example), to cocaine and other ability-impairing narcotics. Marijuana DUI’s in particular present some unique challenges– all of which must be accounted for when your Fairfax DUI attorney builds a strong case for towards the reduction or dismissal of your DUI charges.

Marijuana DUI’s vs. Alcohol DUI’s – What’s the Difference?

First and foremost, marijuana DUI charges are almost without exception more subjective than an alcohol DUI charge. As a defendant, this changes certain things, and can ultimately have both positive and negative repercussions for your case. According to Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-266, Virginia drivers operating a vehicle while under the influence of any amount of marijuana are technically breaking the law. With alcohol, however, there is considerable leniency for drivers whose blood alcohol content (“BAC”) is under 0.08 as measured by a Breathalyzer. Believe it or not, avoiding a charge while under 0.08 is not absolute, since a driver’s driving behavior combined with any amount of alcohol in his system may still subject to conviction. Interestingly, there is also a minimum blood-alcohol DUID limit for cocaine, methamphetamines and other drugs, but no such threshold exists for marijuana.

Measuring Intoxication With a Marijuana DUI

Another unique aspect of marijuana DUI’s is the challenge of measuring intoxication at the scene of the incident. As for quantitative evidence, the most commonly accepted ways in Virginia to measure marijuana intoxication is by using a blood test., However this test does not effectively measure the driver’s current state of intoxication since THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the active chemical compound in marijuana, can be detected in these tests for as long as 30 days following the use of marijuana. THC is fat soluble and can exist in both active (intoxicative) and passive forms, with passive THC taking 30 days to fully leave the body.

Marijuana DUI’s and Sobriety Tests

At the scene of the incident, you may still be subjected to field sobriety tests if you are visibly intoxicated or are clearly ability-impaired by marijuana. A failure to perform these physical tests up to a police officer’s standards may be used (sometimes exclusively) as evidence in a Virginia court of law for a marijuana DUI. Finally, you can incriminate yourself by saying certain things, or directly confessing to driving while intoxicated or impaired. It is very important to disclose only what is necessary in these situations as anything you say WILL be used against you in a court of law. Reviewing what you may have disclosed at the scene of the incident can make a big difference in the ultimate outcome of your case, which makes it especially important to consult an experienced Fairfax DUI Attorney as soon as possible after you are charged.

Work With Eric Clingan: A Fairfax Marijuana DUI Attorney

Given the subjective nature of marijuana DUIDs in Virginia and other drugged driving charges, contacting Eric Clingan, a Fairfax criminal defense attorney with over 15 years of experience, is absolutely in your best interest. We will carefully review the facts of your case in a free consultation and will work towards a solution to ideally have your charges reduced or dropped. The NoVA law firm has extensive experienced with DUI and DUID cases. Contact us today.
Eric Clingan
About the Author: Eric Clingan
Eric Clingan is an experienced Criminal Defense attorney and the founder of the NoVA Law firm. He focuses his practice on defending residents of Northern Virginia charged with DUIs, reckless driving, drug charges, and other criminal accusations.