Nearly two years after Washington residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana, the first pot stores are now open for business. Although today is an historic day in Washington state history, it is also one that reminds us of the many changes likely to occur as communities adapt to legal marijuana. According to a recent segment aired on KIROTV, misconceptions about marijuana laws by the general public are leading to difficulties with DUI cases and DUI jury trials.
Recreational marijuana is legal in the state of Washington, but driving under the influence of pot is not. Many DUI prosecutors in Seattle are saying that while driving under the influence of marijuana has never been legal, far too many people believe it is. This misconception has created problems in many marijuana DUI cases. It's also been a problem prosecutors have faced even before the state legalized pot.
"Drive High. Get a DUI"
In an effort to address misconceptions about driving high, prosecutors, city attorneys, and law enforcement agencies are working together to educate residents across the state about laws prohibiting motorists from driving high. The Seattle Police Department has also announced programs to train more officers in identifying and arresting drivers under the influence of marijuana.
To further their stand against impaired driving, the State Patrol has reclaimed popular, time-tested slogans for alcohol-related DUIs, which include slogans like "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," and "Drive Hammered, Get Nailed." In Washington, the newest slogan is "Drive High. Get a DUI."
While law enforcement and prosecutors are extremely focused on arresting motorists who drive under the influence of marijuana, there are still ongoing debates about legal THC limits (THC is the active chemical in pot) and when someone is truly "too high to drive." This issue has also been asked in Colorado and in other states planning legalization.
The answer to finding an accurate impairment level may still be elusive, but what is certain is that law enforcement agencies are making marijuana DUIs a priority. Washington is the second state in the country to legalized recreational marijuana, and state officials know that others are watching closely. In their overzealousness to enforce the law, it is possible that many drivers will be unfairly arrested for marijuana DUIs.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, Seattle DUI Attorney Jonathan Dichter can help. Contact our firm to discuss your case.