Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law

The effects of marijuana use on drivers

| Nov 23, 2020 | Firm News

There have been widespread reports about the various benefits of marijuana use, including reduced anxiety, pain management and low risk of addiction. Despite the state allowing for the recreational use of the drug, it is possible that using marijuana in any form could lead to DUI charges if a person is found to be under the influence while driving.

According to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) affects the brain’s ability to control body movements, balance, coordination and judgment. Therefore, marijuana sometimes causes significant challenges for driving, including:

  • Reducing reaction time
  • Impairing coordination
  • Distorting perception
  • Impairing decision-making skills

The effects may be worse if the driver mixes marijuana with alcohol or other substances. Motorists stopped by police may find themselves facing significant penalties if tests disclose the presence of marijuana, alcohol or other drugs in their systems while driving.

Is there a limit on marijuana use before driving?

Most drivers are well familiar with the state’s 0.08 blood-alcohol content level when it comes to drinking and driving. If you are at or above that level, you can be arrested and charged with DUI. However, for marijuana, there is no specific limit that details when a person is sure to be considered impaired. Because the drug impacts people differently, those who have been long-term users of the drug may have built up a substantial tolerance to its effects.

Law enforcement has a lot of discretion in these cases. Basically, if they feel charges are warranted, they can use whatever evidence they believe supports that decision. They can say that a motorist was changing lanes erratically or was having difficulty with basic commands during the traffic stop. If a person is subsequently tested and the drug is present, DUI charges could be filed even if the motorist has an extremely high tolerance and is not negatively impacted by using the drug.

With these inconsistencies in testing and assessing drivers, it puts most drivers in a precarious situation. It is important to seek experienced counsel to begin building a defense to these charges as soon as possible to preserve any evidence that may be used to support your position.