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Marijuana and DUI in Wheeling
Marijuana legalization for medical purposes has become a widely discussed topic in recent years. However, it is crucial to note that in West Virginia, recreational use of marijuana remains illegal and subject to penalties.
Interestingly, statistics reveal that marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. In fact, in 2013 alone, West Virginia witnessed over 17,000 marijuana possession arrests, as reported by the FBI.
While the term “DUI” typically brings to mind the influence of alcohol, it is important to understand that driving under the influence of drugs, including marijuana, can also lead to DUI charges.
I Smoked a Joint on My Way to Work. Can I Be Charged With DUI?
West Virginia law states that if you are pulled over and found to be intoxicated due to marijuana consumption, you can indeed be charged with DUI.
Unlike alcohol-related DUI cases, where breath tests are commonly used to determine intoxication, marijuana requires different testing methods. Instead of breath tests, law enforcement will request a blood or urine sample for examination. Only if the test results reveal specific levels of marijuana presence, you may be considered intoxicated “per se”:
- A minimum of 10 nanograms of marijuana per millimeter of urine for urine tests.
- A minimum of 2 nanograms per millimeter of blood, be it whole blood, blood plasma, or blood serum, for blood tests.
When it comes to drug usage, it’s crucial to remember that the effects may linger in your system long after the high wears off. A drug contains substances called metabolites which can remain in your body for a specific period known as the drug’s “detection time.” It’s worth noting that different drugs have varying detection times, with marijuana having one of the longest.
For instance, if you smoke a joint or even just take a few puffs, the pot’s metabolites can stick around for about three days. Regular use of the drug throughout the week will extend this time to around five days. However, individuals who frequently consume marijuana may have to wait an entire two weeks for the metabolites to completely dissipate. In some cases, chronic marijuana users could even face a month-long wait until the metabolites clear their system.
For drivers, this poses a significant challenge because chemical tests conducted may detect past marijuana usage, dating back weeks or even months. Unfortunately, these tests cannot determine when the drug was last consumed, potentially leading officers to assume impairment when the individual hasn’t touched marijuana in days.
Refusing to Submit to Chemical Tests
Given this information, you might be contemplating if it’s wise to decline urine or blood tests. However, refusing to comply with chemical testing will result in an automatic suspension of your license administratively by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. If you’re subsequently convicted of DUI (Operating a Vehicle Impaired), you may face additional suspension imposed by the court.
Therefore, it’s strongly recommended to cooperate when asked to provide a blood or urine sample for testing. It’s far easier for your Wheeling WV DUI lawyer to challenge the accuracy of the test results than for you to lose your license without just cause.
DUI Penalties and Marijuana
It’s essential to understand that the penalties for operating a vehicle impaired by marijuana are equivalent to those received by drivers charged with DUI due to alcohol consumption. The severity of the penalties depends on the level of intoxication, but regardless, they involve fines, jail time, court-ordered license suspensions, and a period of ineligibility for limited driving privileges.
At the Mountaineer Criminal Law Group, we specialize in defending drivers who have been arrested for marijuana-related DUI. Contact us today for experienced legal representation.
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