When it comes to driving under the influence, it's not so much about the substance and more about the impairment. Some drivers who like to use marijuana and then drive might be under several mistaken impressions. Read on to find out more.
There Is No Way to Measure Marijuana Impairment
While it's correct to say that no device or medical test to accurately measure the presence of marijuana exists at present, that is not to say there is no way to detect impairment. Right now, several states allow the recreational use of marijuana and several more allow the use for medical reasons. It is never, however, okay to drive while impaired. Marijuana's active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannot be accurately measured by urine or blood level tests either, at least not in regard to driving. That is because THC levels are influenced by body weight, tolerance, and more and THC can remain in the body for days or even weeks after consumption. That means that law enforcement has to rely on field sobriety testing to determine the level of impairment.
Marijuana: Accepted and Legal
While more and more states are reducing the penalties and criminal status of marijuana, those laws are centered around the possession of pot and not the way it affects a driver's ability to operate safely. Looking across the United States, users might find a mishmash of conflicting and confusing laws about possession. Once you are in a different state, you would be wise to find out about the possession laws in the state you are now driving in. In all states, though, if you are driving impaired, you can be arrested and charged with DUI, no matter what substance got you high.
Just as when law enforcement suspects a driver of DUI of alcohol, there must be reasonable cause to stop a car on suspicions of marijuana impairment. Marijuana often carries with it a strong and distinctive odor that is well-known to law enforcement and that is all that is needed for reasonable cause. Law enforcement reasons that if they can smell it, there is a chance the driver is impaired with it. Other common signs of impairment are slurred speech and poor driving habits.
Field Sobriety Testing
The same tests used on those under the influence of alcohol are used for marijuana impairment. Those usually include the walk and spin, the one-legged stand, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus. Just as with alcohol testing, however, these tests can be wildly inaccurate and may rely too much on being physically fit and healthy. Neurological problems, vision issues, language barriers, and more issues can negatively affect the results of those tests. No matter what happened at your roadside stop, there is a good chance it may not have been legal. Speak to a domestic violence attorney about your DUI case right away.