Within the context of a DUI, a person can be prosecuted for being under the influence of marijuana when driving a motor vehicle just the same as if they were under the influence of alcohol. The penalties for a marijuana DUI are the same as an alcohol-related DUI.
Whenever someone is arrested on the suspicion that they were under the influence of marijuana at the time they were driving a motor vehicle, they should consider retaining a Charleston marijuana DUI lawyer. Charges for a DUI, regardless of the substance involved, could lead to serious penalties. Let a seasoned drug DUI attorney fight for you.
How Marijuana Cases Differ from Alcohol DUI Cases
Prosecuting marijuana DUI cases are slightly different than alcohol-based cases. For instance, when someone is arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, chances are that they are not going to blow over the legal limit (0.08) on a breathalyzer test. Therefore, prosecutors must use other evidence to prove their case, which may include urinalysis or blood tests. The government would then assess whether there was THC metabolite in the driver’s system at the time of the arrest.
In a marijuana DUI case, the prosecution needs to prove that the person operated the vehicle under the influence of marijuana to the extent that their ability to drive that vehicle was materially and appreciably impaired. To prove impairment, prosecutors will usually point to the amount of THC metabolite present in a defendant’s urine or blood sample.
Based on the psychoactive characteristics of marijuana, however, it is scientifically difficult to prove that a person was driving while within the 30 minutes to three hours during which the effects of marijuana are usually experienced. An accomplished marijuana DUI lawyer in Charleston could challenge the state’s case that a defendant was actively experiencing the effects of marijuana at the time of their arrest.
Penalties for Marijuana DUIs
The penalties for a marijuana DUI are the same as for an alcohol-related DUI. If the defendant has a prior conviction for DUI, whether for marijuana or alcohol, that person could be subject to significant penalty enhancements.
A first offense marijuana DUI conviction carries up to 30 days in jail, a second offense marijuana DUI leads to up to one year in prison, and third offense carries up to three years in prison. A fourth offense, or any subsequent offense, could lead up to five years in prison. A Felony DUI, in which a person is seriously injured or killed due to the impaired driver’s actions, carries up to 20 years in prison.
Defendants could also be facing expensive fines, driver’s license suspension, and other consequences.
Hire a Charleston Marijuana DUI Attorney
When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, they should give themselves the best opportunity possible to avoid the long-term, potentially life-long stigma that comes with a conviction. Marijuana DUI charges are no different. Hiring an experienced Charleston marijuana DUI lawyer who knows what to look for and how to challenge the government’s conclusions regarding impairment will put a person in the best possible position to successfully resolve their case. If you are facing charges, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.