driving under the influence of marijuana

Driving while High is illegal in Massachusetts. Though recreational use of marijuana is now legal in the Commonwealth, it is never legal to drive under the influence of cannabis -or any other controlled substance, even if it’s prescribed, as with medical marijuana.

However, getting a OUI/DUI of marijuana to stand up in court can be difficult for the prosecution. Why? Because there is no accepted standard for cannabis or THC impairment.

And, there is no readily available testing device to indicate that a driver consumed cannabis and proceeded to drive while high from it.

While there are reports of manufacturers claiming to have the first breathalyzer for marijuana close to production, such reports are more hype and fodder than reality.

Why it’s Difficult to Test for OUI / DUI of Marijuana

No one has been able to create a sound, chemically based test for DUI of marijuana because the compounds that produce a “high” are quite different from ethanol, the compound that inebriates a drinker of alcohol.

Here are some of the main barriers to creating a standardized test for DUI of cannabis:

  • Cannabinoids like THC dissolve in fat, not in water like ethanol. As such, weed compounds are stored in a person’s fatty cells where they remain for extended periods of time – long after the driver has sobered.
  • Even if a standardized breathalyzer were developed, it would only test for a driver who smoked. Drivers who consumed edibles would go undetected by a breathalyzer for weed.
  • From the few studies done, indications are that THC varies widely in its effects upon individuals.
  • Habitual users can store enough metabolites of THC in their fatty cells to register significant concentrations in their bloodstream for up to 30 days after last consumption
  • This means extrapolating a metabolic rate for cannabinoids remains elusive.
  • Second-hand smoke in small /confined areas can produce a “contact high” in non-smokers which would have to be accounted for in any testing device; and perhaps even in the laws for OUI of marijuana.

But you can get a OUI of Weed

Despite the lack of a conclusive test for measuring THC impairment, law enforcement officials in Massachusetts have promised to get aggressive in catching and arresting drivers under the influence of weed.

Police will utilize their observations, Field Sobriety Tests and Drug Recognition in their attempts to thwart driving while high and advance their arrests to prosecution.

Criminal defense lawyers in Lowell, Boston and all counties of the Commonwealth need to understand the methods law enforcement will be using against drivers who they suspect are stoned.

And anyone arrested for OUI of marijuana needs to employ the skills of a highly competent, effective DUID defense lawyer.

A good place to start is to look for a criminal defense lawyer who has at least some combination of the skillsets that follow:

  • A DUID Specialist (Driving/operating Under the Influence of Drugs)
  • Certified in Standard Field Sobriety Testing
  • Trained in drug recognition through the same courses that law enforcement must pass before becoming a certified DRE -Drug Recognition Expert
  • Educated in chemical analysis and forensics through coursework and laboratory training approved in both science and legal communities
  • Is experienced enough to have actually litigated OUI cases through to trial —and won.

Operating under the influence of marijuana is a serious offense that police and district attorneys intend to come down hard on and prosecute to the fullest extent allowed under the cannabis and OUI laws.

Penalties For OUI Marijuana or OUI Drugs

The penalties if convicted are the same for OUI Alcohol.  There is no breath test to be administered YET, so refusal are not considered as of yet.

First Offense options are as follow:

  • A Continuance without a finding (CWOF), is an admission to sufficient facts to find you guilty.  This will not be a finding of guilt on the docket.
  • Probation for one (1) year or longer.
  • Have to finish the 24D program a 16 weeks of class once per week.
  • Loss of driver’s license privilege for between 45-90 days.  If under 21 the privilege is taken for up to 210 days.
  • A Hardship license is available within 3 business days to most individuals.

At Oberhauser Law we want to try your Marijuana OUI case to try to obtain a Not Guilty verdict for you!

It is only when the prosecution sees a competent challenger who questions their inferences and cracks holes in their case that things begin to go favorably for the defendant.

If you have been arrested for operating under the influence of marijuana or prescription drugs, please call my office to set up a free consult so we can talk about how I may be of assistance in your defense.