Find information on a Marijuana DUI in Washington state. Washington passed Initiative I-502 on marijuana reform on November 2012. The passage of this measure legalizes the adult possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Taxing the sale of marijuana products to create a revenue stream  for substance abuse education and treatment. I-502 creates a very specific legal standard for Marijuana DUI. Setting a limit of active THC of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.

Detecting A Marijuana DUI in Washington

A DRE (drug recognition expert) is a law enforcement officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. The DRE officer will look for the following;

  • Red and blood shot eyes
  • Odor of cannabis on person or in vehicle
  • body tremors
  • eyelid tremors
  • impaired perception of time and distance
  • disorientation
  • paranoia
  • relaxed inhibitions

 

Prior to the passage of I-502, no set legal limit for THC was established in Washington DUI law. If a person had been driving while impaired by marijuana the state had to prove actual impairment. The actual level of THC in driver’s system was not measured. Under the new law a blood test can be given to measure the presence of THC. Blood  measuring 5 nano-grams of THC or more within two hour of driving will result in a DUI.

Studies have shown that individuals can pass physical and cognitive tests at higher THC levels than 5 nano-grams. People would likely register the 5 nano-grams level or higher even several hours after marijuana consumption. Laws as they relate to alcohol DUI at least attempt to criminalize driving after consuming an amount that would affect one’s ability to drive. Recently passed THC blood levels appear to be more arbitrary. There is tolerance within the law for driving after drinking alcohol responsibly. No such tolerance exists with respect to marijuana consumption prior to driving.

Refusing A Marijuana Blood Test

The new marijuana DUI statute changes when the state can pursue a marijuana DUI conviction. Prior to I-502, there was no administrative sanction for driving a motor vehicle with THC in the driver’s system. Under the new statute, drivers who refuse a blood test to screen THC levels are subject to licensing consequences.  Just like cases where an individual refuses a breath test or blood alcohol test, refusing legally requested marijuana blood sample could result in the following:

  • an administrative license revocation of at least one year for first refusal
  • two years if it is a second or subsequent refusal within seven years.
  • Up to a $5000 fine
  • Alcohol/Drug treatment requirements
  • Possible jail time of up to 364 days
  • Ignition interlock requirement
  • Probation
  • SR22 Insurance

You can find more information on Implied Consent Laws for Washington State here.

Failing A Marijuana Blood Test

A blood test result of 5.0 nano-grams of THC or greater would result in  the following:

  • 1st offense: One day up to 364 days in jail, 24 hours of which may not be suspended unless the offender’s physical or mental well-being is at risk, $350 up to $5,00 fine, driver’s license revocation for 90 days, court may order 15 days of electronic home monitoring or a 90-day period of 24/7 sobriety program monitoring, may be required to have IID installed on vehicle.
  • 2nd offense (within seven years): 30 days up to 364 days in jail, 60 days of electronic home monitoring or an additional four days in jail or six months in a 24/7 sobriety program, $500 up to $5,000 fine, license revocation for two years, vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture, may be required to install an IID on vehicle.
  • 3rd or 4th offense (within seven years): 90 days up to 364 days in jail, six months in a 24/7 sobriety program, 120 days of electronic home monitoring, $1,00 up to $5,000 fine, license revocation for three years, vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture, offender may be required to install IID on vehicle.