For decades, smoking cannabis in the car or even having THC in your system was grounds to get charged with a DUI. But now that it is legal in several states, what are the rules for using cannabis while driving?
Let’s start with the assumption that you’re in a legal state. If you are not in a state where cannabis is legalized, any amount will get you in serious trouble. In the legal states, there is no agreement about how much THC is necessary to impair driving in adults.The fact that THC byproducts can persist for a long time in the body doesn’t help matters. More research is needed to arrive at a firm answer.
Current Marijuana Limits in Legal States
Here are the current limits in legal states:
Washington State: 5.0 ng/ml
Colorado: 5.0 ng/ml
Nevada: 2.0 ng/ml
Any of the legalized states will also rely on officer testimony that you were impaired at the time of the stop or crash as proof you were DUI. This evidence may need to pass a certain legal limit, but the wording is quite vague.
In short, the laws right now are too vague to say that it is safe to smoke cannabis in a vehicle. One this is for sure is that if you are pulled over, the officer’s word will weigh much stronger than yours will.
How to Avoid Cannabis DUI?
First, avoid using cannabis in an illegal state. Second, know how much cannabis impairs you. For most people, the effect of cannabis is strongest during the first hour of use, also take into consideration the ingestion method. Whether cannabis is consumed via vaporizers or just through ingestion the amount of time it’s effect stays in your system would vary. As cannabinoids get processed in your body the effect diminishes, just like alcohol. Unfortunately, since there is no clear and measurable limit across the board for cannabis DUI, there’s no way to say just how much you can take before you’re legally impaired. You’re responsible for knowing your limits.
Also, you should never mix alcohol and cannabis before driving. The effects of the two drugs can cause strange reactions in people and make their driving even more impaired. Plus, if you do get pulled over it will make a DUI charge much easier to stick if they catch two drugs in your system. What may be legal for one drug alone may be illegal when you combine two.
It would also be prudent not to use cannabis while you are in the car in any form. Since the effects are strongest in the first hour, the chances of you doing something that attracts the attention of officers is higher. Save the experience for when you are at home or in a safe space.
What To Do If Pulled Over?
This is not intended as legal advice, but there are some general rules that can help make your interaction with police better. First, know the laws surrounding cannabis use in your state. If you’re a medical cannabis user, carry your prescription card with you. Be polite and expect to go through some field sobriety tests. Don’t volunteer more information than the police ask.
There are some regions of the country that are testing new breathalyzers that can detect THC levels. These devices have been in use in some other countries, but their use in the US is still untested in court. Nevertheless, if you refuse a test you will likely be arrested.
Finally, you should have the number of a competent DUI lawyer with experience in cannabis DUI cases if you plan on using cannabis while driving.
Ideally, you would never use cannabis prior to getting on the road. The risk of danger to yourself and others is too great. However, the laws surrounding cannabis DUI are still quite vague and open to interpretation. Until there is some legal clarity, protect yourself by knowing the current laws and taking steps to reduce the amount of your impairment before getting on the road.
Michael Jacobs is a marketing and creative content specialist at GotVape.com with a primary focus on customer satisfaction. Technology and fitness combined with healthy lifestyle obsession are his main talking points