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Can I Get a DUI for Marijuana?

can i get a dui for marijuana

Yes, if you are pulled over while operating a vehicle and you have THC in your system, you can be charged with a DUI. Some people believe that since roadside breathalyzer tests cannot measure THC accurately, the probability of being charged is lower than for alcohol-related incidents.

Technology is racing to create an accurate method of roadside testing for cannabis consumption. In the process of legalizing medical cannabis use, states have addressed zero-tolerance laws for impaired driving.

If you are a patient with a medical cannabis card, there are some important things you should know about responsible use.

How is Cannabis Sobriety Tested When You Are Pulled Over?

Law enforcement can not use a breathalyzer roadside test to determine if you are driving under the influence of cannabis and impaired. Other drivers have the option to submit to a roadside test if law enforcement suspects them of being intoxicated by alcohol. Or, the individual can submit to a blood test at the police station.

However, if the officer does not smell or suspect that alcohol is the cause of impairment, they will direct you for a blood test. Drivers who regularly use cannabis do not have the option of a breathalyzer, as the current technology doesn’t work well enough to detect THC through breath tests.

You may be subjected to some similar roadside sobriety tests outside of your vehicle to help law enforcement determine the level of impairment. If you have a medical marijuana card, you are legally able to possess and use cannabis; it is unlikely that you will face possession charges; however, if you have a large amount of cannabis in your vehicle, which exceeds state possession limits for patients.

State Laws Regarding Cannabis and Impaired Driving

storing mmj

Most states treat cannabis-related impairment the same as drunk driving. First-time offenses have consequences, but the penalties for repeat offenses can be life-changing. Here are some examples of DUI laws in different states.

Florida Impaired Driving Laws

In Florida, drivers who are impaired by cannabis face the same penalties as residents who are charged with alcohol intoxication. First-time offenders can face up to six months of incarceration and a fine of $500 to $1,000. Drivers can also be ordered to complete 50 hours of community service and experience vehicle impoundment for up to ten days.

The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana escalate with any subsequent offense. For example, a second DUI offense may carry a penalty of nine months in jail, a $2,000 fine, a mandatory ignition interlock device, and a suspension of driving privileges for 1-5 years. Second offenders are usually required to complete a psychosocial evaluation, and their vehicle can be impounded for up to 10 days.

A fourth cannabis or alcohol-related DUI in Florida can earn a sentence of up to five years in prison and lifetime revocation of the individual’s driver’s license, as well as a 90-day vehicle impoundment. Florida has zero-tolerance laws for driving under the influence, whether you are a registered medical marijuana patient or not.

Texas Laws About Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

qualifying conditions

The state of Texas is known for having harsh criminal penalties for any crimes relating to driving under the influence and cannabis. The state does have a medical marijuana program, but licensed dispensaries are more like pharmacies rather than retail stores.

The first DUI offense for cannabis intoxicated driving is charged as a Class B misdemeanor. The sentence can include 72 hours to 180 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. A second offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, with 30 days to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.

If you are convicted of impaired driving in Texas as a third offense, the sentence can be 2-10 years of incarceration and up to $10,000 in fines. Texas does not have a per se law for marijuana-related driving while impaired charges.

Georgia Cannabis DUI Laws

You do not have to be impaired while driving to face a DUI charge in Georgia. The laws stipulate that driving while under the influence of any drug is unsafe, whether there is impairment or not. One of the unfortunate things about Georgia DUI laws is that someone can be charged, even if they are not functionally impaired.

As long as there is THC in your system, you can be penalized, according to Ga. Code Ann. § 40-6-391(a) (West 2010). However, the laws do not account for patients who may be registered and responsible medical cannabis users.

One of the reasons why Georgia laws do not weigh impairment is because tests to determine the exact levels of THC in the body are inaccurate. There have been some advancements, but court challenges have proven that most new methods, including blood tests, confirm the presence of THC metabolites. So, they can tell you have consumed THC but not how much or when you consumed it.

This is particularly challenging for patients who use medical cannabis. You may have consumed an edible two weeks prior and test positive for metabolites even if you didn’t consume any that day or present with symptoms of cannabis impairment.

Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania considers all marijuana-related DUI charges to be high-tier offenses, which carry some of the most punitive consequences for residents. Like many other states that have legalized medical marijuana, the penalties for DUI become more severe after subsequent offenses.

The First Offense of cannabis DUI in Pennsylvania carries a mandatory incarceration of 72 hours and a one-year suspension of driver’s license. There is also a mandatory fine of $1,000. A second cannabis DUI charge, however, carries a mandatory 90-day jail sentence and a maximum of five years in prison, with $1,500 in fines and an eighteen-month driver’s license suspension.

Can You Get Cannabis DUI Charges Expunged?

avoid legal troubles

With federal and state legal reform regarding cannabis criminal charges, you may be wondering if a past cannabis DUI can be expunged. Unfortunately, driving under the influence of marijuana or any other controlled substance does not qualify as a “simple personal use possession charge,” and it is unlikely that state or federal laws will allow expungement of the crime.

If you received a DUI charge but were acquitted, however, you may be able to apply to have that record expunged. Criminal acts with intent, or those involving violence or harm to someone else, are unlikely to be expunged. Also, consuming medical marijuana on probation is illegal in most states, whether you are a cardholding patient or not.

Is There a Legal Defense for a Patient Who Tests Positive for THC?

It is possible to get a medical marijuana DUI because the laws for medical marijuana patients regarding safe driving are the same. Having a medical card is not a defense against impaired driving. If you are under the influence of any prohibited substance, you can face severe legal consequences.

By being a registered medical cannabis patient, you do have laws that protect the ability to purchase, carry, possess, and use cannabis you acquired from a licensed dispensary. But if you are engaged in an illegal activity, such as impaired driving, having a medical card makes no difference and offers no legal protections against criminal charges.

What Amount of Cannabis is Safe to Consume Before Driving?

None. The way that THC and other cannabinoids impact you can vary, depending on your tolerance level, whether you have a full or empty stomach and the potency and quantity of the cannabis you consume.

No matter how alert you feel, you can still be charged with a DUI if you drive high, even if you feel that you have good control of the vehicle and are not experiencing drowsiness. Cannabis has the potential to slow your reaction time, impact your ability to make decisions and overall coordination and impair your perception of your surroundings. It is not safe to drive when you are high.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is an excellent choice for daytime use. It is one of the most effective cannabis alcohol alternatives you can try. If you choose a clinical-grade broad or full-spectrum CBD tincture or gummy, you may find it helps with symptoms of pain, stress, and anxiety throughout the day. Then, when you return home, you can use medical cannabis to alleviate your symptoms safely.

That doesn’t mean you cannot take a dose and go out. That’s what UBER is for, as well as family members or friends who agree to be a designated driver should you need to medicate and travel outside of your home.


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