Drugged Driving and Driving Under The Influence of Marijuana
With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Michigan, it is only logical to expect that there will be many more instances of police and prosecutors aggressively charging people for driving under the influence of marijuana.
The laws regarding driving under the influence of marijuana has not changed with the legalization. It still remains illegal to operate a vehicle with any amount of marijuana in your system. This law applies not only to marijuana, but to all Schedule 1 controlled substances, even if you have a prescription.
However, unlike with alcohol where the prosecutor must prove that your blood alcohol content exceeds .08, or that your ability to operate a vehicle has been impaired, all the prosecutor has to do in the case of driving with marijuana is prove that you had any amount of the substance in your system. The only exception is for individuals with medical marijuana cards. In that case, the prosecutor must still show that the individual is impaired due to the use of marijuana.
The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana are just as serious as those for a standard OWI and include the possibility of 93 days in jail, $500.00 in fines, 360 hours of community service, and suspension of your driver’s license for 30 days followed by a restricted license for 150 days
Of course, this brings about several important questions. Most significantly, how do the police and prosecutor prove that you have marijuana in your system? After all, as of now there is no accurate breathalyzer for detecting the presence of marijuana. And while specialized field sobriety tests are being developed and a rather inaccurate marijuana breathalyzer has been beta tested, these are insufficient to prove that you have marijuana in your system. The simple answer is that the police will take you to a medical facility and obtain a sample of your blood. This can be done either with your permission under the implied consent laws, or the police will seek a search warrant and obtain that blood sample without your consent. Once they have the sample it will be sent off to the State Police Crime Lab for analysis. Depending on how busy the lab is it may then take anywhere from several weeks to 6 months to get the results of the test. In the meantime this can leave you in a very precarious and uncertain state.
It is also worth noting that, unlike alcohol which has a relatively predictable rate of absorption and elimination in the human body, THC is much more persistent and can stay in the body for up to 30 days or longer after use. Every person is different and accurately predicting how long THC will remain in your system after using marijuana is very difficult.
As always, the best advice is to never drive with any amount of marijuana in your system. It is not enough to simply not feel high. If there is any doubt, do not drive. However, if you find yourself facing the possibility of charges for driving under the influence of marijuana, contact our firm immediately to discuss your options. Our experienced attorneys will work with you to develop an effective defense against charges that can have life long impacts.