Most people know it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs, but the question is, how long after smoking can one get a DUI? The legal limit for driving high in America is a blood THC concentration of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. But this number can vary slightly from state to state. Some states have zero-tolerance policies, meaning that any amount of THC in the blood is illegal. Other states have “effects-based” DUI of marijuana laws that measure a driver’s impairment based on all available evidence.
If you’ve been smoking or plan to smoke, it’s a good idea to wait before you get behind the wheel. But how long should you wait before driving?
Generally, blood THC concentration levels are highest after smoking marijuana, reaching upward of 100 ng/ml within 15 minutes of smoking it. Then, the levels start to decline slowly over the next few hours. Most people who only smoke recreationally will have THC concentration levels below 5 ng/ml within two to four hours after smoking. However, it can take up to eight hours or longer for people who smoke more frequently, take edibles, or use higher-potency marijuana. The same applies to those who have combined marijuana and alcohol.
When Does One Get a DUI Charge?
33 states use effects-based laws that criminalize someone for driving while impaired. This is based on evidence like field sobriety tests, driving behavior, and other signs of impairment. If a police officer suspects you are operating a vehicle under the influence, they may request a blood or urine sample. You may be arrested and charged with a DUI if the test results return positive for THC.
However, 17 states use “rebuttable presumption,” “zero tolerance,” or “per se” laws that criminalize someone for driving with either any amount of THC or metabolites in their system or for having a certain amount. If you are suspected of driving high, the officer may request a blood test to measure THC concentration levels. If those levels meet or exceed the legal limit defined by your state, you will likely be arrested and charged with a DUI.
But since marijuana metabolites can remain in the blood for days, weeks, or even months after drug use, the per se laws are largely contested in states that have legalized marijuana. At this time, you should definitely consider contacting a DUI attorney.
Marijuana DUI Consequences
DUI of marijuana is the criminal offense of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by marijuana or other drugs, including alcohol. Although most states have legalized marijuana for medical, recreational, or both purposes, it is still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. If caught, you will likely face jail time and hefty fines. Penalties vary from state to state, but most states have similar laws for DUI of alcohol and marijuana and may include:
- Jail time
- House arrest
- Fines and community service
- License suspension or revocation
- Increased insurance costs
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
- Community education and/or substance abuse courses
- Possible probation or vehicle impoundment.
Penalties can be more severe if:
- You have high THC concentration levels
- Have prior convictions or are a repeat offender with previous DUI convictions
- Someone else is harmed due to your actions
- There’s property damage
- You were driving without a valid license or on a suspended license
- A child was in the car at the time of the arrest
In many states, the judge has the discretion to impose harsher penalties or even additional charges. First-time offenses are often given a milder sentence, whereas those with repeat convictions are usually given harsher penalties.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you are charged with marijuana DUI, it’s essential to consult with a skilled DUI lawyer. A lawyer specializing in DUI law can help you understand the laws in your state and explain the best course of action. They can advise you on how to handle the charges, mitigate damages, or even challenge them based on any evidence of impairment.
A lawyer can help you understand your rights, what is at stake, and possible outcomes for your case. They will also represent you during court proceedings and be your advocate in the courtroom. Don’t hesitate to contact a DUI attorney at Chaput Law if you face marijuana DUI charges.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can medical marijuana patients get a DUI for driving when high?
Yes. Even though marijuana is legal in many states for medical purposes, it’s still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. If caught driving while impaired, you will likely be charged with a DUI, irrespective of whether you used medical or recreational marijuana.
What does a DUI of marijuana mean?
DUI of marijuana is the criminal offense of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by marijuana or other drugs, including alcohol. It applies to anyone suspected of being under the influence while driving, regardless of their state’s laws regarding marijuana use.
How long should I wait after using marijuana to drive?
The length of time that you should wait after using marijuana before driving depends on the product and how much was used. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from two to eight hours for the effects of marijuana to wear off. It is best to wait at least a few hours after consumption before driving to ensure that you are not impaire