I-502 & DUI Law Enforcement
How the new marijuana law will be enforced in Washington State
As you may have heard, the passage of I-502 will allow Washington State citizens to carry 1 ounce of marijuana on them with no consequence as of December 6th. Last week, Pierce and King County prosecutors have dropped 220 misdemeanor marijuana cases for adults 21 and over, but there are still a number of DUI (driving under the influence) prosecutions for marijuana. With the regulation of marijuana by the state comes with new DUI/DWI laws. Similar to drunk driving laws that make blood alcohol content (Blood Alcohol Content) above .08% illegal, drivers whose blood is tested above .05 nanograms (NG) will also be considered impaired. Below are some answers to the important questions regarding how the new DUI laws will specifically be enforced.
What is being tested?
The .05 ng level that police will be testing for is of active THC. Active THC is the chemical in marijuana that would cause impairment, and levels of .05 ng levels are said to lower within hours of use. You may have heard that marijuana can show up in blood tests for up to 30 days or more. This is referring to carboxy-THC, which is stored in fat cells and is not counted as a basis of impairment.
How will it be tested?
Procedures in dealing with drug related impairment will remain unchanged. According to Washington State Trooper Sgt. Mark Crandall, if driving under the influence of a drug is suspected at a traffic stop, there are 217 “Drug Recognition Experts” that are specially trained to do a 40 minute evaluation. Based on the evaluation, the driver would be asked to have their blood drawn at a medical facility, with drivers with more than 4 previous DUIs having no choice but to give blood. At this point, a search warrant can also be obtained.
How will this law change prosecutions?
Before I-502, there was no cutoff for THC, so a positive blood test of any amount alone did not guarantee DUI conviction. In fact, because of questions of the science of marijuana impairment, on Seattle driver was acquitted despite a positive blood test. This also made is common for prosecutors more willing to seek plea bargains. Some local defense attorneys believe a measurable level of impairment gives the prosecuter too much leverage and gives the defendant less room to argue what impairment really means.
Who are law enforcement targeting?
According to Sgt. Crandall, his officers, “..deal with impairment. You have to go all the way back to the traffic stop: What happened for the guy to have his blood drawn?” Seattle City Attorney and I-502 supporter Pete Holmes echoes this point, “This is simple: Don’t drive when you think you might be impaired,”.
For more information, read the full source here
One thing is sure, if you are arrested for DUI or DWI, you will need good representation. Kris Jensen of Jensen Legal has been defending citizens in DUI/DWI cases for almost 20 years. Call or contact today for a free consultation 206-617-9173