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Marijuana Users Can Be Arrested for a DUI, Even With a THC Level Below the Legal Limit

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Dec 22, 2012 | 0 Comments

You may have heard that the legal driving limit for marijuana use in Washington is five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.  If you test above this amount, then under the new law, you are "per se" impaired by marijuana.

But even if you smoke marijuana and come well below the five nanograms mark, you could still be charged with a DUI so long as your driving is impaired.

Similar to alcohol impaired driving, you do not need to test above the legal limit of marijuana to be arrested for a DUI. You can still be charged with a marijuana DUI even if your blood results are below 5 nanograms if your ability to drive is affected to any "appreciable degree."  Testing above the legal limit for alcohol or drugs simply means that you can be charged under the "per se" prong of the DUI statute.

However, while there is a relatively easy calculus to determine blood alcohol level -- you look at the number of drinks someone had, their bodyweight, how long they have been drinking, if they had something to eat -- it's still a rough science to determine how much marijuana use equates to five nanograms of THC, reports King 5 News.

More importantly, it's difficult to quantify just how impaired a driver will feel with one nanogram of THC in their blood stream, two nanograms, three nanograms, etc.

Given the fact that recreational marijuana use went from illegal to legal overnight, there is growing concern that individuals who have never tried marijuana before may give it a shot and then later get behind the wheels of their car.  Infrequent and new users of marijuana may feel the impact of the drug much more sharply than a regular user. As a result, their driving may be impaired even with a THC level well below five nanograms.

Drivers should be aware that smoking any amount of marijuana can potentially lead to a DUI charge. Even a single puff could lead to an arrest if you are impaired.  Also, for those people who use marijuana regularly, their tolerance will likely be much higher and they may feel completely sober yet still have more than the legal limit of marijuana in their system.

If you are facing an alcohol or marijuana DUI, you should know that the DUI attorneys at Wolff Criminal Defense are here to provide professional legal assistance in Seattle and King County.  We will work with you to ensure all of your interests are protectedl, and our award-winning lawyers will stand by you every step of the way. Call us today at 425-284-2000, or visit us at to set up a consultation.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


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