For a little over a year, recreational marijuana use has been legal in Washington. So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise when some members of the Seattle Police Department report that they are nabbing more stoned drivers as compared to last year, reports KIRO 7.
Seattle law enforcement personnel are trained to spot the signs of both drunk and high driving. And when they stop a stoned driver, the officers report that many drivers are unaware that while it may be legal to smoke marijuana recreationally, it is still illegal to drive while under the influence. The drivers think that just because marijuana use may be legal, then it should be okay to drive high as well.
In 2012, only 28.6 percent of drivers stopped for suspected impairment tested positive for THC -- the active ingredient in marijuana that makes someone feel high. In the first six months of 2013, more than 41 percent of drivers stopped tested positive for THC. Alarmingly, the Washington State Patrol reports that marijuana usage is now more prevalent in drivers under the age of 21 than alcohol usage.
The legal limit to drive after smoking marijuana is 5 nanograms of THC. However, drivers should be aware that if your driving is impaired, you can be arrested and charged with a DUI even if your THC level is below this amount. The key factor that law enforcement will focus on is how your driving is impacted.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol in the King County area, you will want to work with an experienced attorney. The penalties for a DUI are very severe in Washington. This includes the penalties for a first-time DUI offender. To learn your options and defenses, contact an attorney at Wolff Criminal Defense by calling 425-284-2000.