A person could face a DUI charge, including a felony DUI charge, if they are suspected of driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.
Anyone charged with a DUI for which the government alleges they were under the influence of marijuana should consider hiring an experienced Charleston marijuana DUI lawyer who understands the psychoactive properties of THC, as well as the “Drug Recognition Expert” procedures, that are typically used by law enforcement during “drugged DUI” cases.
Marijuana Laws in Charleston
Charleston marijuana laws prohibit possession of marijuana in any amount, and if someone is suspected of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, they can be charged with Driving Under the Influence in violation of South Carolina Code of Laws § 56-5-2930 just the same as if they were under the influence of alcohol. South Carolina does not have a separate “marijuana DUI” law.
Also, marijuana is prohibited in South Carolina in any form, and the possession of cannabis is a criminal offense.
How are Marijuana DUI Cases Different From Alcohol-Based Cases?
Marijuana DUI cases differ from alcohol-related DUI cases because the “evidence” of impairment is not immediately observable. In an alcohol-related case, a breath sample can be obtained during the arrest process as evidence of impairment, but there is no “breath test” for the presence of marijuana.
Typically, a law enforcement officer makes a subjective determination that someone is “under the influence” of marijuana based on highly subjective criteria, and possible proof of impairment via a urinalysis test or blood test is only realized weeks or months later after an arrest. Even when those test results come back from the government, they should still be reviewed for accuracy and reliability given the known, limited psychoactive properties of THC. Just because THC metabolite is in a DUI defendant’s blood or urine does not mean they were under the influence around the time the sample was taken.
Contrary to the properties of alcohol, the psychoactive properties of marijuana do not adversely affect a person for an extended period of time. Therefore, the window of opportunity for someone to be under the influence of marijuana is significantly shorter than alcohol, meaning that there is less of an opportunity for the government to successfully use evidence of THC metabolite in someone’s system in a DUI case.
Additionally, if law enforcement uses a drug recognition expert to evaluate a DUI suspect, an experienced lawyer will likely know that many of the procedures associated with a DRE investigation are not scientifically sound or reliable enough to justify a culpability determination.
Contact an Experienced Charleston Marijuana DUI Attorney
It is important to contact a DUI attorney who has familiarity with marijuana DUI because the case analysis during representation is slightly different than an alcohol-related DUI. An experienced Charleston marijuana DUI lawyer likely knows that the overall characteristics of THC metabolite are defense friendly in a DUI case, and they may know and understand that law enforcement Drug Recognition Experts are vulnerable to credibility challenges due to the unreliable conclusions regarding impairment allowed by their adopted policies and procedures which are not scientifically sound. If you are facing charges, contact a lawyer today to begin building an effective defense.