Driving under the influence of marijuana continues to ignite national conversations among law enforcement over the best ways to deal with this issue and when and how to arrest motorists. In a previous blog, we discussed how law enforcement and public safety officials are working together to create educational campaigns about state laws on marijuana DUIs. "Drive High. Get a DUI," has become one of the preferred slogans. Apart from educating the public, however, law enforcement agencies are just as focused on enforcing the law.
During the first two weeks of July – which coincided with the opening of Washington's first recreational marijuana retail stores – authorities throughout King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties conducted emphasis patrols to target motorists suspected of driving high. The increased patrols were paid for by a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
According to law enforcement officials, these emphasis patrols were designed to stress that idea that driving under the influence of marijuana is against the law in Washington. Although questions still remain about when a driver is "too high to drive," agencies are making it clear that they'll be enforcing state law, even if discrepancies exist. Police have the ability to arrest drivers based on blood draw results or observed impaired.
As with driving under the influence of alcohol, authorities suggest that anyone who uses marijuana simply not drive and instead use sober drivers. Penalties for marijuana DUIs can be just as severe as those for a standard alcohol DUI charge, which may include hefty fines and fees, license suspensions, and possible terms of imprisonment.
As Washington authorities attempt to make their stance on marijuana DUIs known, it is possible that their overzealousness can lead to unfair arrests. Because the issue of marijuana DUIs is still being hotly debated, and because Washington has become the "guinea pig" for testing law enforcement strategies on this issue, anyone charged with a marijuana DUI should be focused on working with an experienced lawyer.
If you or someone you love has been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana in King County, Snohomish County, or any surrounding community, Seattle DUI Attorney Jonathan Dichter can help. To discuss your case during a free consultation, call 425-296-9358 today.