Marijuana DUI in Washington since I-502

Since the legalization of Marijuana in Washington State there have been over 130 DUI arrests. In King County alone, including Seattle, Bellevue and Kirkland there has been a total of 16 Driving Under the Influence (marijuana) arrests according an article in the Seattle PI.

Currently the blood samples are at the State’s Toxicology Lab. Sgt. Paul Erdahl reported that the results of the blood tests from the arrests should be reported back in the next few weeks. It should also be noted that during the same period Washington State Patrol has reported 1,355 alcohol DUI arrests, with 240 of this arrests from King County.

What you need to know about Washington Marijuana DUIs

It has always been illegal to drive impaired by Marijuana in Washington; however the new law sets out a specific blood level that if above that level it is considered “over the limit.” The new “over the limit” is much like the .08 level that we are all used to in regards to alcohol.

The new Marijuana DUI “over the limit” amount is 5 nanograms per milliliter of whole blood. This per se over the limit amount has caused a stir, both in the scientific community and bymedical marijuana users. Several people and experts agree that this level is just too low and cannot determine impairment.  Furthermore, it will adversely cause hardship
to long time legal medical marijuana users who will be subject to arrest every time they drive.

National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) – Drugs and Human Performance fact Sheet, States: “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC
blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. Concentrations of parent drug and metabolite are very dependent on pattern of use as well as dose. Chronic users can have mean plasma levels of THC-COOH of 45 ng/mL, 12 hours after use…. is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone

Effects: Pharmacological effects of marijuana vary with dose, route of administration, experience of user, vulnerability to psychoactive effects, and setting of use (NHTSA)

Even in NHTSA’s own materials it would suggest that it is unwise to have a “over the limit” law regarding Marijuana,
there are just too many variables including the experience of the user. Again, suggesting chronic users and medical marijuana users will be adversely and unfairly affected by this law.

As we will see in the next several months, attorneys will be challenging this law. Many top DUI attorneys already have taken the steps to learn about Drug DUIs by becoming trained in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE)t and or Drug Recognition Expert overview courses. Furthermore, there will be several issues involving the actual blood draw and the means the government will be testing the blood sample.

With so many issues surrounding this new Marijuana DUI law, it is important to consult a qualified DUI attorney as soon as you can. If you have additional questions or would like a free consultation contact us at (425) 429-1729.