Seattle, WA- A man who admitted to smoking pot hours before a fatal pedestrian accident was sentenced to six months in jail earlier this month.
In December of 2012, just days after marijuana became legal for recreational use, then 47-year-old Scotty Rolwes was driving in Vancouver, Washington, when pedestrian stepped into his path and was fatally struck. Reports indicate that man who was killed stepped out into traffic and could be considered partially responsible for the accident.
The driver who struck the man, Scotty Rowles, then 47, stayed on the scene and passed field sobriety tests. He said he tried to stop before he hit the man, but it he couldn’t. During the course of their investigation, police noticed he had bloodshot eyes and Rowles later admitted to smoking a “bowl” two hours before driving. That admission was enough for police to place Rowles under arrest for driving under the influence, KATU reported.
The charges against Rolwes were initially dropped. But several months after the collision, a toxicology test showed that when the accident occurred Rowles had 7 Nano grams of THC in his system and he was charged with vehicular homicide.
On May 19th, Rowles agreed to a plea deal and was sentenced to 6 months in jail and five years’ probation. He must also pay restitution to the victim’s family, but the judge has not set that amount, according to KATU.
Since voters in Washington State approved marijuana for recreational use, there has been much debate on how much a person can consume before they are considered legally intoxicated. The state set the per se limit for marijuana intoxication at .05 Nano grams per liter of blood.
But marijuana advocates say this limit is too law, arguing that chronic marijuana users, even if they haven’t smoke for days or weeks, could easily meet the legal bar of intoxication. That means that many of the people facing a marijuana-related DUI could be charged even if they were actually impaired.
There is no doubt that marijuana affects a person’s motor skills, but not nearly to the degree alcohol does. In fact a recent study, conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that stoned drivers at a much lower risk of being involved in a collision than a drunk driver. Additionally, stoned drivers are not at a greater risk of being in an accident than a sober driver. That doesn’t mean people should drive after smoking marijuana but they shouldn’t be convicted of being impaired when they aren’t.
A DUI charge, whether it involves alcohol or marijuana can lead to severe penalties that go beyond the legal system. In addition to criminal penalties, a DUI conviction will affect a person’s future and leave them with a record. That is why anyone facing a DUI in Washington needs and attorney to work on their defense.
If you have been charged with a driving under the influence of marijuana in Seattle, you need a DUI attorney on your side to counter the state’s evidence and give you a greater chance of avoiding a DUI conviction.