If you were charged with DUI marijuana, a marijuana DUI lawyer in Virginia can fight for your rights. Attorney Jay P. Mykytiuk may be able to help.
Can I Be Charged With a Marijuana DUI in DC?
Let’s begin with a little history. Personal use of marijuana by adults over the age of 21 was legalized in the District of Columbia in 2015 under local law. This means that as long as there is no intent to sell, you can possess and use up to two ounces of marijuana, recreationally, on private property without penalty of law. It does, however, remain illegal under federal law to possess marijuana.
But it is still illegal to drive if you are under the influence of weed. If arrested, you can be charged with a DUI and face stiff fines and even jail time. The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana are pretty similar to driving under the influence of alcohol penalties. Potential penalties for Marijuana DUI charges can include up to a year in jail, a fine ranging from $250 to $2,500, and a driver’s license suspension for up to a year even for a first offense.
Other penalties, such as participation in the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) and installation of an ignition interlock device on the driver’s vehicle, may also apply. But, since this is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, a Virginia criminal lawyer may fight for a suspended jail time if there aren’t any aggravating factors. That’s why hiring a skilled Virginia marijuana DUI attorney can be crucial.
Facts About Marijuana
The active ingredient in marijuana is THC. Unlike alcohol, which metabolizes quickly and will only show up in a chemical test while you are impaired, THC remains in your body for several days, or possibly even weeks, after it is smoked or ingested.
This means that a chemical test may be positive for THC even if you consumed marijuana three or four days ago. Because of this, standard field sobriety tests, breath, blood, and urine tests designed to determine whether you are impaired and under the influence of alcohol, are not necessarily reliable for someone who has used marijuana. In addition, Virginia law does not state how much THC must be in your system for you to be considered impaired.
So, any amount found through a chemical test constitutes DUI. In other words, you don’t actually have to be “under the influence” to be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana.
How Does Law Enforcement Prove a Marijuana DUI?
To be charged with a marijuana DUI, law enforcement must prove that a driver is under the influence of marijuana to the degree that they can’t follow the rules of the road and operate a vehicle safely. Just as with alcohol, their focus during a traffic stop is to document, through both observation and standard field sobriety tests, the driver’s coordination, judgment, and reaction times.
Were you following all traffic laws…stopping at stop signs and red lights, using your turn signals, and yielding to pedestrians? Did you stay within your driving lane on the road? Did you exercise the appropriate caution when driving? This is all very subjective and inconclusive.
If the officer smells the odor of marijuana, they will also question you about your use and when you last consumed weed. It is in your best interest to remain silent and not discuss or try to explain your marijuana use with the officers. By doing so, you’re only helping law enforcement make their case by giving them first-hand evidence of marijuana use that may be used against you.
Regardless of whether you were consuming marijuana before driving or even that day, after speaking with the police and voluntarily taking the field sobriety tests, you will most probably be arrested for suspicion of DUI.
Are Marijuana DUI Cases Different Than Alcohol-Related Cases?
In alcohol-based cases, police can prove that someone was under the influence of alcohol by showing that they had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more. In drug DUI cases, the government must rely on the testimony of the arresting law enforcement officer or an expert witness. They can testify that the amount of marijuana found in the individual’s blood was so high that they were impaired to drive a motor vehicle.
However, a marijuana DUI case must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. So, when the arresting officer suspects impairment due to drugs, they may obtain a warrant for a urine or a blood test to prove their suspicions.
Hire an Experienced Virginia Marijuana DUI Lawyer
Any DUI charge should be considered a serious matter. The most important thing you can do after your arrest is to call an attorney with expertise in marijuana DUIs immediately.
Proving a marijuana DUI is different than proving an alcohol DUI. Field sobriety tests, as well as chemical tests, are designed to prove alcohol consumption and impairment and are not necessarily effective in proving marijuana use or impairment. A knowledgeable Virginia marijuana lawyer can challenge this evidence and make positive recommendations to help your case even before the trial takes place.
Contact Jay Mykytiuk Today
If you’re looking for an experienced criminal defense law firm that will fight for your rights throughout the marijuana DUI criminal process, contact Jay P. Mykytiuk, Trial Attorney. Mr. Mykytiuk has successfully represented individuals throughout Virginia who have been arrested and charged with a marijuana DUI. Contact us today at 202-318-3761 to discuss your case.