Most people know that being caught with even a joint of marijuana by law enforcement can lead to criminal charges in most of Georgia. But even if the police don’t catch you smoking cannabis, you can still be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana – even if you were not actually high at the time of your arrest. Officers must use their discretion when arresting someone for drugged driving and can make mistakes. On top of that, cannabis can linger in the body for weeks, which can negatively influence your test results and lead to an improper conviction. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, contact the Don Turner Legal Team and see how we can help you.
The Problem with Marijuana DUI Arrests
Georgia law forbids drivers from driving under the influence of any drugs, to the extent that it is less safe to drive or driving with any amount of marijuana in their system. Unlike alcohol, there is no measurable legal limit for cannabis in your system, and you cannot submit to a breath test to prove you were not driving while high. An officer arresting you for driving under the influence of marijuana will be making that arrest based on their observation of your driving performance, your mannerisms, and how well you perform field sobriety tests when pulled over.
While it is dangerous to get behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana,there are multiple issues with how drugged driving arrests are conducted. Again, officers must use their individual discretion when arresting people for drugged driving, and they can make mistakes. Even if you were not under the influence of pot when you were pulled over, you could be arrested for drugged driving simply because the officer believed they smelled pot in your car.
Field sobriety tests are not a good way to determine if a driver is high either. An officer conducting a field sobriety test already has the idea that you are under the influence in the back of their mind. This makes it more difficult for them to be objective. You might have a medical condition that could negatively impact your ability to pass the tests. Finally, these tests are frequently performed at night and on uneven ground, which can further skew results. This is why it is never a good idea to take them.
On top of that, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical that causes the “high” felt when smoking cannabis, can stay in the body for several days or even weeks after you smoke marijuana because of how your body metabolizes THC. This can cause problems if you are subjected to a chemical test after your arrest. Even if you weren’t high when you were arrested, even if it was several days or even a week since you smoked a joint, THC might still be found your blood or urine. When any amount of marijuana in your system can lead to a DUI with Drugs charge, this is a huge issue.
Note that you cannot be charged with DUI with Drugs simply based on THC levels in your blood if you have a medical marijuana card. However, you can still be charged with drugged driving if law enforcement feels your driving behavior was unsafe due to you being under the influence of THC.
Don’t Take a Marijuana DUI Arrest Lightly
Getting convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana can have a tremendous impact on your life. A first conviction will lead to a fine of up to $1,000 (in addition to fees and assessments, which can add up to 25% to your fine), up to 1 year in jail, a minimum of 40 hours of community service, 12 months of probation, and mandatory participation in a risk-reduction program. Your license will also be suspended for six months. Unlike an alcohol DUI, this is a “hard” suspension of your license – you will not have the option of a limited permit or a work permit.
Even a first-time DUI conviction will also cause your insurance rates to go through the roof, as your insurance company will see you as a less safe driver. You can expect to see your premiums as much as quadruple after you are convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana, and that is if your insurance company doesn’t drop you entirely.
The penalties only grow steeper with subsequent marijuana DUI convictions. Upon your fourth offense, you will find yourself facing fines of up to $5,000.00, up to five years in jail, and at least 60 days of community service. Additionally, your driver’s license will be revoked for five years, and your vehicle will be subject to seizure from law enforcement.
Remember – because of how the body metabolizes THC, your chemical tests will not tell the whole story. A blood test cannot distinguish between someone who smoked marijuana a week ago and someone who smoked it an hour ago. Testing positive for THC does not mean that you have lost your marijuana DUI case – the state has to prove you were under the influence at the time of your arrest.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, now is not the time to go it alone. You will need an experienced defense attorney on your side, one who is familiar with Georgia’s drugged driving laws and can help you successfully fight your charges. The Don Turner Legal Team has years of experience successfully defending drugged driving cases and can do the same for your case. If you are facing a marijuana DUI, contact our law office today.