The Poughkeepsie Journal reported on some difficult issues that have surfaced since the possible legalization of recreational marijuana in New York. One of the most serious enforcement problems is related to the fact that traces of marijuana will remain in a person’s body long after the psychoactive effects have worn off, so measuring impairment can be a challenge.
New York state government concerned about more dangers on the road if marijuana is legalized
Local government officials were concerned that procedures and rules related to driving in the state may need to be updated if residents can use the drug for recreational purposes. A number of high profile cases around the country have highlighted the fact that drivers who use marijuana do kill others while impaired, and accidents involving impaired drivers increase.
Other states that legalized marijuana earlier such as Colorado and Oregon, have seen a large spike in crashes and motor vehicle deaths where marijuana was a factor. Colorado saw double the amount of traffic deaths related to marijuana use between 2013 and 2017 when compared to the previous four years.
Defending against charges of driving under the influence of marijuana
As the news story above mentioned, it can be difficult for the state to prove DUI charges where marijuana is the only factor, as the THC from the drug stays in a person’s body for weeks afterward. This means a positive test for marijuana will not necessarily show that a person was high while driving. This can work in the favor of defense attorneys, as it is the state’s job to prove that the suspect was impaired while driving beyond all reasonable doubt. The state can merely show that the person must have consumed marijuana sometime in the weeks before their arrest, with the testimony of the officer on the scene as supporting evidence. Some states have not standardized an amount of THC that must be present in a person for them to be legally impaired. However, this has been done almost everywhere in the country with alcohol, where a .08 blood alcohol concentration is the standard legal limit.
The drug test
When police suspect someone of driving under the influence, they can order a test of breath, blood, or urine to determine the driver’s level of impairment. Breath tests are normally only used to determine a person’s blood alcohol content. Urine or blood tests are used for marijuana and other drugs. THC is a drug that stays in a person’s body for a long time compared to alcohol, cocaine, and other substances that can affect someone’s ability to drive.
DUI laws have become more and more strict around the country as fatal accidents related to impairment are a regular occurrence. If convicted, a person will lose their driver’s license, have to pay fines, and can face serious future consequences regarding employment and their career trajectory.
To learn more about driving under the influence charges related to alcohol or drugs in the Poughkeepsie area, contact The Law Office of Danielle Fenichel. You can receive a free consultation and learn more about how a defense attorney will represent your interests.