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Drugs and the DUI Conviction

Previously on this site, we have addressed issues surrounding being under the influence of drugs and how it relates to your driving under the influence charge in Washington State. It is important for Washington residents to know how the new laws and regulations surrounding marijuana impact the language in the law of the DUI conviction. We felt it is important to revisit the topic in today's times to make sure people are current on how DUI convictions interact with drug use.

While it should seem fairly obvious to most that operating a motor vehicle under the influence of any type of drug is a poor choice, people may not be aware of how the law has been impacted by the legalization of marijuana in Washington State.  Just because marijuana is legal for residents of Washington to consume it is not legal to drive under the influence of marijuana or other drugs.  

According to a recent report by NPR in 2012 about 19% of the DUI charges were related to marijuana in Washington State. In 2015, that number has jumped to 33%.  That is concerning because it means that there are more drivers on the road today that are under the influence of marijuana. While it's unclear how many people on the road in total are using marijuana as they drive, it is clear that the number of convictions has increased due to the legal use of marijuana.

The process for Washington State Patrol and other offices of law enforcement is to conduct a field sobriety test on-site to check a number of biological signs to determine if marijuana or another drug is at work in the body of the individual suspected of driving under the influence. Once the field sobriety test is complete and the officer has enough evidence to bring a charge the individual is taken to a police station where a blood test is administered. As mentioned before on this site, the blood test conducted on-site is highly reliable and is allowed in court proceedings. These figures will give an accurate indicator of how much alcohol, marijuana or other drug is present and active in the body of the individual. When that data has been established the police officer will move towards release or conviction depending on what the numbers say. Thus, someone who is under the influence of drugs like marijuana while driving is subject to the same testing and legal process that someone is under the influence of alcohol.

Our hope is that you would never find yourself in a situation where you have driven under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We hope that every driver makes good choices and is responsible for themselves and others on the road. We know, however, this is not always the case and people need an experienced DUI attorney to help them navigate the legal system in the event of a driving under the influence charge or conviction. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you through your legal issues and help you potentially avoid a driving under the influence charge.

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  • Washington Association for Justice
  • Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association
  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • American Association for Justice
  • Washington State Bar Association
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