Did you know you could be charged with impaired driving, or DUI in Washington without ever taking a sip of alcohol? That is because the state’s DUI laws are not limited to alcohol consumption. In fact, a driver can be charged and convicted of a DUI associated with marijuana use, or any other substance you consume that impairs your ability to operate a vehicle.
A DUI conviction in Washington can mean harsh penalties for even a first-time offender. The punishment may include jail time, loss of driver’s license and steep fines. There also are numerous social and career considerations with a DUI conviction, such as the impact on your ability to find a job or maintain healthy family relationships.
Our defense team offers representation for drivers who are charged with marijuana-related DUI in Everett. We offer a personalized approach and focus on building a substantial defense to charges of DUI. Learn more about the charges against you and what you can do to protect yourself and your rights.
Washington’s DUI Laws Applied to Marijuana Use
The state’s DUI laws are outlined in Chapter 46.61.502 of the Revised Code of Washington. This passage states a person is guilty of driving while under the influence of marijuana if she or he has a THC concentration of 5.00 nanograms per milliliter of blood or higher within two hours after driving.
A driver’s THC concentration is determined through the analysis of his or her blood. The state may use any THC blood concentration higher than 0.00 as evidence in a DUI case against a driver to prove that the driver was impaired. The defense team may challenge the findings of a blood test as well as the process by which the blood sample was obtained by the officer and how it was handled. This is particularly true in cases in which the test was performed incorrectly or the test results were in some way compromised.
Note that Washington’s law to decriminalize the use of recreational marijuana does not nullify the state’s marijuana DUI laws. In fact, state marijuana DUI rates have risen drastically since the implementation of I-502. A driver found to be under the influence of marijuana and in possession of more than the legally permitted one ounce of marijuana may face additional charges. Your attorney can advise you on the potential penalties associated with such charges.
An Overview of the Two Types of Penalties for Marijuana DUI Conviction
There are two separate aspects of the penalty process in the wake of a DUI conviction. The first is the criminal prosecution for the crime of operating a vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance. The second is the administrative actions taken by the state’s Department of Licensing to suspend or revoke your driver’s license.
The criminal courts typically adhere to the “DUI sentencing grid” when determining appropriate penalties for an individual convicted of marijuana-related DUI. Factors influencing the severity of punishment include:
- amount of substance or refusal of testing;
- whether there were any minors in the vehicle at the time of arrest;
- previous DUI offenses (a driver who previously has been convicted of DUI faces harsher penalties than a first-time offender); and
- a variety of other factors.
Penalties may include anywhere from one to 364 days in jail and fines of up to $5,000 or more. Other penalties include mandatory attendance in a sobriety program, substance use assessment and more.
The Department of Licensing also will take action against a driver even before any conviction for marijuana DUI. In such cases, the state will attempt to revoke a driver’s license for anywhere from 90 days to three years or more, depending on the driver’s prior record. An attorney can provide you with details on the penalties you are most likely to face.
Important Deadline You MUST Know About:
To challenge the DOL’s authority to suspend/revoke your driver’s license, you must file a formal hearing request with payment within 20 days of your arrest. If you do not do so within 20 days, you waive any challenges to the DOL’s action against your license – the license suspension will automatically be imposed.
Where to Turn When You Need Help Defending Your Rights
You have the right to hire a lawyer to help you defend yourself against charges of marijuana DUI. Call the Deno Millikan Law Firm, PLLC at 425-259-2222 to schedule an initial case consultation.