The headline shouldn't be that surprising. Since Washington lawmakers legalized recreational marijuana use last year, more drivers tested positive for the drug, reports My Northwest.
According to the Washington State Patrol, in the first six months of 2013, 745 people tested positive for marijuana use. In a typical full year, only about 1,000 drivers test positive for marijuana. However, state troopers say that the increased positive test results do not necessarily mean that more drivers are driving high. Instead, the increase may be due to troopers looking more closely for signs of driving under the influence of marijuana and ordering more THC blood tests.
While marijuana and alcohol use are different, lawmakers have adopted bright-line standards for deeming someone statutorily under the influence. For example, drivers are considered drunk if they have a blood alcohol level about 0.08 percent. In addition, a driver is considered impaired if he has a THC level above five nanograms. Of the 745 people who tested positive for marijuana use during the first six months of 2013, 420 tested above the legal limit. As a comparison, for the full year of 2012, 609 of those who tested positive for marijuana use tested above the legal limit. In 2011, 506 drivers tested above the legal limit.
However, drivers should keep in mind that they may be charged with driving under the influence even if they test below the legal limit so long as their driving is impaired. So if you are driving erratic due to marijuana and test below the legal limit, you could still be charged with a crime.
If you have any questions about a marijuana DUI charge in the Seattle or King County areas, contact an experienced attorney at Wolff Criminal Defense. Washington laws for driving while high are relatively new and you will want an advocate on your side to ensure that your rights are heard. To schedule a consultation to discuss your case, call us at 425-284-2000.