Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana During COVID-19


Washington State's marijuana law allows adults 21 years and older to legally purchase the substance from state-licensed shops. They can possess up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana, 16 ounces of edibles infused with marijuana, and 7 grams of marijuana concentrates.

Unfortunately, some people heading out to buy marijuana might consume the substance either before leaving for the shops or returning home from them. Although possession and consumption of marijuana are legal, DUI laws apply when a person operates a motor vehicle and they have the substance in their system.

Are Cops Still Enforcing Marijuana DUI Laws During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state governments, Washington's included, have enacted stay-at-home orders barring non-essential travel. And while some businesses were forced to close, marijuana shops are still able to sell their wares. This means that even though marijuana sales have dwindled (after an initial surge at the start of shelter-at-home orders), people can still go out to buy the substance. As before, some buyers might consume marijuana before and after making their purchases.

Just because social, business, and government landscapes have changed, law enforcement processes have not. The cops are still out there patrolling the streets. And with fewer cars on the road, they're more likely to notice someone driving erratically, lending probable cause for a marijuana DUI stop and possible arrest.

Washington's Marijuana DUI Law

It's a common misconception that DUI laws apply only when a person is under the influence of alcohol. However, the text of Washington's statutes specifically provides that it's unlawful for anyone to operate a vehicle while they are under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, and/or any other drugs. This is true even if the person uses marijuana for medicinal purposes.

The legal limit for marijuana DUI is 5 nanograms of THC. But, a person could be charged with the offense if they are below that threshold and it's determined that their driving abilities were affected by the substance.

The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana are the same as those of driving under the influence of alcohol.

A first offense can result in a gross misdemeanor charge, which carries penalties of up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000. If the individual was convicted of a DUI three or more times previously, the level of charge increases to a class B felony. A conviction can lead to a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

If you've been charged with a DUI in Lynnwood, call DUIHeroes at (425) 296-9358 or contact us online. Now's the time to start building your defense, and we're here to help.

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