Last week the Washington state Supreme Court confirmed that Washington drivers can be cited for driving under the influence for driving while high on Marijuana. The ruling found Washington’s per se laws for Marijuana were not based on an arbitrary and vague standard for THC levels in the blood. The justices, however, did acknowledge that the correlation between THC levels and impairment were not gauged in a precise science. Nevertheless, they found that blood measurements provide a useful and constitutionally acceptable measurement to determine if someone is impaired while driving. In short, they found that although Washington’s THC per se limit of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood drawn may not be perfect in terms of identifying degree of impairment for all individuals, it is reasonably and substantially related to recent consumption, which is – in-and-of-itself – related to impairment.
The case at issue involved a driver that was pulled over in July 2017 after a trooper saw him speeding, driving alone in an HOV lane, changing lanes erratically and cutting off other drivers. When the trooper approached the car, he noticed that the driver was wearing an employee badge from a local cannabis dispensary. The driver was allegedly shaking, sweating and had dark circles under his eyes. The driver admitted to smoking half a day earlier. However, he no longer felt impaired. The driver performed several DUI field tests and was arrested for DUI thereafter. His THC blood concentration was 9.4 nanograms per milliliter. That, obviously, put his THC blood concentration above the state’s per se limit of 5 ng/ml.
Defense argued that the state’s per se limit was not correlated to any real measure of impairment and was therefore arbitrary, vague and unconstitutional. The court didn’t buy the argument presented by the defense even though it was supported by a doctor who said the effect of a given level of THC can vary significantly from person to person, depending on body fat and frequency of cannabis use. In short, the court held the law was constitutional, and was not arbitrary or vague. What does this ruling mean? Well, in sum, it means that even if you feel you are fine to drive after smoking Marijuana, you may in fact be too impaired to operate a motor vehicle by Washington State standards.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI Attorney. A Seattle DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle DUI Lawyer as soon as possible. A DUI can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI Lawyer. The Seattle DUI attorney team at SQ Attorneys is here to help – (206) 441-0900 or (425) 359-3791.