What if you were committing a major crime and you didn’t even know it?
For example, we all know how simple it is to avoid getting a DUI. All you have to do is avoid drinking and driving to abide by state DUI laws…right?
As it turns out, using other substances and driving can get you convicted as well. Is marijuana one of those substances and, if so, what do you need to know about it to avoid getting convicted? Keep reading to discover the answers!
Can You Get a DUI for Marijuana Use?
Yes. If someone has enough THC in their system, or if a police officer thinks the driver is impaired by marijuana, it is possible they will get a DUI.
Exactly how such a driver might get convicted depends on the state. Some states actively conduct blood tests to determine if a driver has THC in their system. Other states leave it up to the police officer’s best judgment to determine whether the driver is driving under the influence of marijuana.
Respectively, these are known as “per se DUIs” and “impairment DUIs.” Now, let’s take a closer look at each one.
Understanding “Per Se” DUIs
While you may not know the legal term for it, a “per se” is what leads to most convictions for drunk drivers. All the arresting officer has to do is administer a breathalyzer or blood test. If the test shows the person has a certain amount of alcohol in their blood (usually .08% or higher), they can be arrested regardless of how well they can drive, speak, pass physical tests, and so on.
As more states legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, there has been a large push to measure whether drivers are driving under the influence of marijuana. In some of these states, drivers suspected of driving under the influence of cannabis may be asked to submit to a blood test. If those results show a certain amount of THC in their system, then drivers may be convicted.
Understanding Impairment Charges
For both alcohol and cannabis, an impairment DUI is very straightforward. These convictions stem from the arresting officer’s belief that the driver was influenced by alcohol, cannabis, or other substances.
Perhaps the most common way to measure impairment is the field sobriety tests. During these tests, police officers ask drivers to perform various tasks that include walking in a straight line and reciting the alphabet. As the drivers perform, police monitor for impairments such as slurred speech or an inability to walk straight. These may be used as proof the driver is impaired.
However, always remember that police officers do not have to administer field sobriety tests. They may arrest you for anything from your erratic driving to your car smelling like weed. If you ever feel you have been wrongfully arrested, it’s important to contact a good lawyer.
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Who Is (and Is Not) Considered a Driver
Have you ever considered that you could get charged when you’re not actually driving? It’s true: Many drivers get behind the wheel and then determine they are too intoxicated to drive, deciding instead to sleep it off and sober up. But at the discretion of the police and a judge, a high person sleeping behind the wheel like this may or may not be considered a danger behind the wheel.
Usually, this comes down to whether the authorities believe the driver is in control of the vehicle or not. If you ever end up napping in your own car, you are better off putting the keys in your glove compartment or even outside of your car and sleeping in the backseat to make sure you don’t get in trouble!
What Are the Penalties?
If you should be convicted for a marijuana DUI, the exact penalties will be up to the court to decide. However, you can generally expect the same types of penalties as those involving alcohol.
For example, your license will likely be suspended for a prolonged time. This usually ranges from 90 days to one year. And you may have to pay a fine ranging between $500 and $2,000.
You will likely need to enroll in a substance abuse program, take special driving classes, and agree to certain probationary terms. Finally, you may spend some time in jail, though first-time offenders are unlikely to spend much (if any) time behind bars.
Filing an SR-22
As you can tell, getting caught when you are impaired behind the wheel results in a number of immediate penalties that you must face. However, for many drivers, the worst penalty of all is a long-term one: the SR-22.
After getting convicted of this or other major driving violations, you may have to file an SR-22 with the state. The SR-22 requires you to get a certain level of minimum liability of DUI insurance for a specified time (usually three years).
Basically, the state worries that those who get convicted of a DUI may not be the safest drivers. Unfortunately, insurance companies also set their rates based on how risky you are behind the wheel. Because of this, your insurance prices will increase. Some carriers may even refuse to cover you altogether.
Fortunately, if you’re willing to shop around, you may find great SR-22 insurance at an awesome price!
Getting the Right DUI Insurance
Now you know that driving under the influence of marijuana may result in a DUI. But do you know where you can get the best car insurance after this happens?
Here at SR-22 Adviser, we’re focused on getting you the insurance you need at the best possible price. To get started, come get competitive quotes online from our partner today!