Tulsa, OK- Even though drivers who are under the influence of marijuana are far less likely to cause a fatal traffic accident, a new law will make it illegal for a person to drive with marijuana and its metabolites in their system, even when they aren’t high or haven’t smoked pot for days.
The law was intended to curtail the number of drugged driving accidents in the state by instituting a “zero-tolerance” policy for people who drive under the influence of prescription or illegal drugs. But marijuana users will be unfairly targeted by the new law and will punish people for something they have done in the past.
The law which took effect on October 1st, 2013, would make it possible for person to be charged with driving under the influence if they have any traces of THC or the chemicals produced when the drug has been metabolized in a person’s body, blood or urine. Marijuana metabolites do have not intoxicating effects on users.
This law flies in the face of scientific facts which show that the mere presence of marijuana in a person’s body doesn’t mean they are intoxicated. Most scientists struggle to determine what amount of THC in a person’s system would indicate impairment, but recent studies have shown that drivers with THC concentrations of 5 Nanograms per milliliter of blood doesn’t affect a person’s ability to drive safely. The risk of causing a crash rises as a driver reaches 10 Nanograms per milliliter of blood.
When a person consumes marijuana, they immediately have high concentrations of THC in their system, but that drops significantly an hour to three hours after smoking weed. The intoxicating effects of marijuana typically wear off in three to four hours after a person has smoked marijuana, but THC and its metabolites can stay in a person’s system for days or weeks. Chronic marijuana users—people who smoke three or more times a week—can have THC and other metabolites in their system for months.
In one study involving, 25 participants had active THC levels a full seven days after abstaining from the drug. This highest level of THC found in the participants’ blood was 3 Nanograms per milliliter of blood.
With this “zero-tolerance” law Oklahoma legislators are making it possible for an innocent person to be charged with a crime—in this case DUI—even when they are not under the influence. This law will also affect medical marijuana users traveling from other states.
It is understandable that legislators want to cut down on intoxicated driving, but this law is a too heavy-handed in regards to marijuana users.
Any driver who is facing intoxicated driving charges whether they were under the influence of marijuana or alcohol can rely on the expertise of a Tulsa criminal attorney to build a strong defense on their behalf.