Seattle, WA- Voters in Washington state and Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the first two states to do so. But even though residents in the state can puff away for fun, that doesn’t mean they can’t get charged with a DUI.
Both Washington and Colorado, along with the 17 states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, treat stoned drivers the same way they treat drunk drivers.
In Washington, a standard of 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood has been set as the standard to prosecute a driver for drugged driving. The body metabolizes marijuana differently from alcohol; a frequent pot smoker can have up to 2 ng/mL of THC in their blood 24 to 48 hours after smoking, well after the actual effects of the drug wear off.
While Washington State may have blood concentration requirements for prosecuting a stoned driver, many states, even medical marijuana states, have a zero tolerance policy. Which means you could smoke marijuana on Tuesday, and be charged with drugged driving on Thursday, even if you didn’t actually smoke that day.
As more states legalize marijuana for recreational use, and they will in time, the DUI laws will have to be examined and a possibly changed because of the way the drug is metabolized.
Since marijuana use is prevalent in America, DUI attorneys are well-versed in building a defense and helping a person avoid conviction. The penalties for drugged driving are the same as drunk driving so it’s important to have legal representation to keep a court from handing down a tough sentence.