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Marijuana intoxicated drivers and DUIs

Now that people in Van Nuys have the right to use marijuana recreationally, there is growing concern about how it can affect their ability to drive. Driving while under the influence of any drug, including marijuana, is a crime. People who use marijuana and drive should make themselves aware of the potential consequences they face.

The effects of marijuana on drivers

Marijuana can affect a person's motor skills and cognitive abilities. The effects are more pronounced when it is consumed with alcohol. Many people who use marijuana recreationally also drink alcohol because it enhances the effects of their highs. Motorists who drive while high often exhibit driving behaviors similar to those of drunken drivers. Drivers who have higher concentrations of THC in their blood are more likely to drive dangerously.

Law enforcement can pull over drivers whom they suspect of driving under the influence. They may request suspected offenders to perform field sobriety tests to determine their levels of intoxication. But determining whether marijuana is a factor leading to intoxication is often challenging. In most cases, blood tests are necessary to determine how much THC is present in the blood.

Marijuana impairment and field sobriety

The problem with marijuana DUIs is that THC is a substance that remains in the user's blood for days and even weeks after use. For example, a driver smoked some marijuana a day ago. A law enforcement officer pulls him or her over for a missing tail light and suspicion of intoxication. The officer requests the driver to perform a field sobriety test and he or she complies. The officer arrests the driver because he or she failed the sobriety test. At the station, bloodwork is done to determine what substances the driver is on. The results show she or he has a BAC of 0.04 and a THC level of 45 nanograms per milliliter. Because of these results and the failed sobriety test, the driver has a DUI charge.

Proving impairment

There are several elements to proving impairment for a marijuana DUI charge, such as the driver's blood analysis, field sobriety test results, behavior and appearance at the time of detainment and the arresting officer's observations. THC impairment is more likely to occur in the immediate hours after use. Also, blood tests can only determine the presence of THC in the bloodstream. It cannot determine the time of consumption or amount.

DUI charges are often challenging to overcome. But that does not mean they are not beatable. People who are dealing with charges stemming from marijuana use and driving should speak to an attorney about their situations for guidance.

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