There have been over 130 arrests for suspected drugged driving in Washington state since marijuana possession became legal early December, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Sixteen of these arrests occurred in King County.
The new legal standard for driving under the influence of marijuana is having a THC level above five nanograms. This standard has had some controversy as critics argue that five nanograms of THC may not necessarily indicate how well a person can drive. This is especially true for heavy marijuana users such as those who use it medicinally.
In the next few weeks, legal experts expect the first DUI case to go through the justice system that will test this new standard. As these first cases are tried, there are many things that you should pay attention to.
First, you should be aware that the old argument that someone was not impaired by marijuana is no longer effective. That's because if your THC level is above five nanograms, you're automatically presumed to be impaired regardless of how well you are driving.
Second, it will be interesting to see what THC levels suspects test at. We know that a blood alcohol content above 0.16 is extremely high. But what about a THC level? Is 10 nanograms really high? Is 20? Or does it vary wildly from person to person?
Third, you will want to pay attention to whether prosecutors ask for more severe penalties for someone with a high THC count. Unlike with alcohol use, there are no statutory penalties for high THC levels. Though that may not stop prosectors from seeking greater penalties.
Lastly, you will want to pay attention to the defenses offered. Just because a THC level above five may mean that the person was driving impaired, a defendant may have options to throw out the evidence or argue why it is unreliable.
The new drugged driving laws are winding its way down the court system. Given the uncertainty around the new standard, you will want experienced legal counsel at your side should you face a drugged driving charge in the Seattle or King County areas. If you fight your battle alone, you could leave yourself at the mercy of prosecutors.
Contact the attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense to learn about the charges you face and defenses you have. You can schedule a free consultation by calling 425-284-2000.