This article talks about Washington State’s new law, driving under the influence of marijuana.

Washington is one of two states that have passed laws allowing for the legal recreational use of marijuana. As a result of the legalization, there were many questions about the enforcement of certain laws that dealt with marijuana crimes. One of the biggest changes that could impact users of the drug concerns the state’s DUI laws.

In the past, for police to be able to make a driving under the influence of marijuana arrest, the officer needed to show some evidence that the motorist’s driving was impaired due to the use of the drug. There was no legal limit for any drug that needed to be present before a motorist would be considered impaired.

However, when the voters passed the initiative that legalized marijuana, it led to changes in Washington’s DUI laws. Now, the state has a per se marijuana DUI law, which means that a motorist can be charged simply for having the drug present in his or her system.

The law states that anyone found to have more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood can be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana. It would be considered similar to those motorists who have a blood-alcohol content above .08 percent. The 5 nanograms limit is one used by other jurisdictions as well.

Critics of this law believe that it does not take the differences between alcohol and marijuana into consideration. Marijuana affects each user in a different way. Long-time users, such as those who rely upon medical marijuana to treat various illnesses, may build up a tolerance, meaning that they could be way over the legal limit but not demonstrate any type of impairment.

The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana are identical to those that can be imposed for an alcohol-related DUI. A conviction can result in jail time and fines, and will result in the loss of a driver’s license. If the individual has had prior DUI convictions in the past, the penalties that will be imposed will increase.

The changes to Washington’s DUI laws may mean that many more people could be facing DUI charges. A conviction for DUI can lead to problems that can haunt a person many years after the case has been concluded.

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, you will need someone on your side who can protect your rights. Discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn more about defending yourself against these accusations. An attorney can closely examine your case to be sure that police followed all of the proper procedures.

Keywords: DUI laws, marijuana laws

Green Ritchie & Bogar, PLLC