Analysis of Washington State’s Per se Marijuana DUI Law

leaf-12_lAnalysis of Washington State’s Per se Marijuana DUI law

At the end of 2012, a new Washington legalized marijuana went into  effect. Part of the law that legalized marijuana use, also created a new marijuana driving under the influence (DUI) standard. Currently, RCW as amended to reflect the new Marijuana DU per se law states: “A person is guilty of driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state: (b) The person has, within tow hours after driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s blood made under RCW 46.61.506…” [The blood analysis of a person’s THC concentration shall be based upon nanograms per milliliter of whole blood].

This new per se law is causing  many problems for chronic marijuana users and medical marijuana users, since they may have 5.00 or higher THC in their blood at any time, but not be driving impaired. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has made it clear in the past that it is very hard to predict someone’s impairment simply from an arbitrary result of a blood test. Pharmacological effects of marijuana vary with dose, route of administration, experience of the user, vulnerability to psychoactive effects, and setting of use.

In November of 2014, the NHTSA the article Understanding the Limitations of Drug Test Information, Reporting, and Testing Practices in Fatal Crashes. NHTSA has been gathering data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) for nearly 40 years.  I reviewed the article and will highlight some interesting points below: Read more

Kirkland Holiday DUI Patrol

Kirkland, Washington is stepping up their DUI game for the upcoming holidays.  Kirkland Police are warning people that there is going to be an increased number of officers looking for drunk or drugged drivers between now and New Years Day.

Kirkland Police are paying special attention the drivers driving after using Marijuana. According to a recent study, many people believe the Marijuana doesn’t affect driving, and maybe even makes a person a better driver.

The bottom line is, if you are going to be celebrating the holidays with cocktails or Marijuana you better have a designated driver. If you get arrested for a DUI you may immediately face, incarceration, Ignition interlock device, costly bail, and attorney fees. Not to mention, if you are convicted, you will face up to 364 days in jail, $5,000 fine, license suspension, alcohol or drug education classes,  high insurance rates, and many other penalties. Read more

Michael Phelps Arrested for DUI


Not a picture of Michael Phelps DUI

Washington State Laws and Michael Phelps DUI

It has been reported that early morning Monday; Phelps was stopped for traveling 84 miles per hour in a 45 zone. Police were quoted saying, he “was unable to perform satisfactorily a series of standard field sobriety tests. Police also said that Phelps was cooperative, and some sources are suggesting that Phelps’ breath alcohol concentration was twice the legal limit. Apparently, Phelps was convicted of a prior DUI in 2004.

Obviously this case is going to be a highly publicized DUI arrest, but let’s apply the information we have to Washington DUI laws.

First, look at the stop. Speeding nearly 40 miles per hour over the posted speed limit will get you pulled over every time.  Clearly, drinking and driving was the first mistake, but speeding is just asking to be pulled over. However, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) there are 24 cues that are good predictors that someone is driving impaired.  Some will be surprised to learn that speeding is not one of them.

Second, we examine the arrest. Although, we have very little information; let’s focus on the “series of standard tests.” These tests are called Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs). They include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN, or eye) test, the Walk and Turn (WAT) test and the One Leg Stand test (OLS).  These tests are meant to be instructed and graded in a standardized manner and not following such standards will invalidate the tests. In Washington these tests, including the roadside breath test are voluntary and seldom should one agree to participate. The SFSTs are an opportunity for the police officer to gather evidence against you. Think about it, a world class multiple gold medal winning Olympic athlete was unable to perform them “satisfactorily.” One source even says he “bombed” them. So, how well do you think you would do, sober or not?   Read more

Ex Seattle Seahawk and LSU star arrested for DUI, again…


cup-and-keys-300x225LSU standout and former Seattle Seahawk Spencer Ware has been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).  The DUI arrest occurred in Maple Valley, and it appears he was booked into the Kent Jail.

Apparently this was the running back’s second arrest in Washington in the last 9-months. Although, the previous DUI charge was dismissed by the judge because the prosecutor could not prove that the officer had reasonable suspicion to make a stop.

If Spencer Ware was facing a second offense DUI in Washington the potential consequences could be:

  • Pretrial ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Minimum of 30 days of jail up to 364 days
  • Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM)
  • Several $1,000 in fines and assessments
  • At least 2-years license revocation
  • DOL imposed IID/IIL
  • Alcohol and drug assessments
  • Treatment

Read more

“Drive sober or get pulled over” Snoqualmie is being targeted for DUI patrol over Labor Day weekend

Alcoholic Drink and a toy carDuring this holiday week extra officers will be out looking for impaired drivers. Drug Recognition “Experts” (DRE) will be on the lookout as well for drivers under the influence of marijuana or other drugs. So, if you are planning on a night at the casino and having a few drinks you better be prepared to find a safe ride home.

Washington State Patrol is suggesting that more people are using marijuana recreationally since it has been legalized. The WSP is also is reminding that anyone under the age of 21 will be arrested for DUI if they have any marijuana in their system or a blood alcohol concentrating over a .02. Read more

“Drive High, Get a DUI” Washington State Patrol Labor Day Campaign

Cannabis sativa. Marijuana leaf, pipe and ready to use dry produThis Labor Day Weekend Washington State Patrol is going to target drivers driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana. The campaign slogan is “Drive High, Get a DUI.” The slogan is part of an ongoing campaign to educate the public on the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana. The topic of marijuana DUI has been having debated in Washington State ever since possession and use of marijuana was legalized. A Washington State Patrol deputy stated that even thought it may be harder to detect marijuana impairment, “being high on marijuana impairs a driver’s ability to judge time and distance, two key skills for safe driving…”

The current  DUI – Marijuana law

A person is guilty of driving while under the influence of, marijuana, if the person drives a vehicle within this state and the person has, within two hours after driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s blood; or While the person is under the influence of or affected by, marijuana; or while the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, and any drug. (RCW 46.61.502).

If you have been arrested for DUI, please contact our office and schedule a consultation. There are many defenses to marijuana DUIs. Just because you have been arrested does not mean you are guilty.

Most common signs of DUI

.08Washington State Patrol and Local King County Police will be out looking for DUI suspects over Memorial Day weekend. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to break down the five most common reasons Washington DUI cops claim they believe someone has driven under the influence in Washington State.

Bad driving

The first thing an officer notices when patrolling for WA Dui is the driving pattern.  This is phase one in the officer’s training: Vehicle in Motion.  The officer or Trooper will look for a moving traffic violation; equipment violation; an expired tab and so on… Furthermore, NHTSA has developed 24 driving cues which police may detect nighttime impaired driving. According to NHTSA the DUI cues were developed from a list of more than 100 driving cues that been found to predict Breath Alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater.  Read more

Female exotic dancer will represent herself in an upcoming DUI trial

A judge will allow an exotic dancer charged with DUI and resisting arrest to be her on lawyer for a non-jury trial next week. The judge wanted to grant a “stand-by” public defender, however she rejected that idea saying, “Public defenders did not have a client’s best interests at heart” (According to a recent article). Further, she stated that her attempts to hire an attorney failed when she was quoted $2,000.

Let’s break this down: Read more

Mountlake Terrace Police Commander arrested for DUI in Snohomish County

It was reported last week that a Mountlake Terrace, Washington Police commander was fired because he was arrested for a driving under the influence (DUI) by a Washington State Trooper.

The police officer was on call than night of the DUI arrest. The report stated that he was with others at a restaurant in Arlington, Washington drinking until about 1:00 am.  He then drove to the Tulalip Casino and eventually attempted to drive to his home in Lake Stevens, Washington.

On the way to Lake Steven’s a Washington State Trooper noticed the police officers car crossing the center line and his headlights were off.

The police officer was stopped by the trooper and agreed to submit to field sobriety tests, although he declined the portable breath test.  The police officer was subsequently arrested for a Washington DUI and later blew a breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .055 and .058.

The police officer was charged with DUI and is being prosecuted by Snohomish County Prosecutors. He later entered a not guilty plea at Snohomish County district court according to the Everett Harold.

Let’s break this down and see what we non-police officers can learn: Read more

Cinco De Mayo DUI

Too Much to Drink - AlcoholismCinco De Mayo is just around the corner and Washington State Patrol and local city police will be paying special attention to the “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” nation campaign. These mean more Washington State DUI patrol. According the to the campaign material from 2008-2012, 233 people have been killed in DUI crashes around Cinco De Mayo.

How to prevent a DUI on Cinco de Mayo?

A Washington State DUI is having an alcohol concentration of .08 or over, or THC concentration of 5.00 or higher, or the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana or any drug.

So, to prevent being arrested for a DUI in Washington State during Read more