Most people think driving under the influence only applies to operate a vehicle when impaired by alcohol. This is perhaps not surprising since the dangers of drunk driving are discussed more often than those associated with drugged driving. With the authorities becoming more lenient with possession of small amounts of marijuana, many people think nothing of driving after using it.
However, driving under the influence of marijuana or another controlled substance is still a crime. You can be charged with impaired driving if you were in control of a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. This is no less serious than an alcohol DUI and you need to seek representation from a DUI attorney in Atlanta.
With alcohol, you can be charged if your blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. There is no such upper limit where drugs are concerned. If the police suspect that you are impaired and your breath test is clean, they may ask you to take a blood test. Based on Georgia’s implied consent laws, you can’t refuse such a test. If you do, your license will be automatically suspended.
How Police Detect Marijuana Use in Drivers
As you probably know, law enforcement officers use breathalyzer devices to determine whether a driver has consumed alcohol. However, to determine if a motorist is under the influence of drugs, a sample of their blood must be taken. The blood sample will be tested for THC metabolites that are formed in the body after marijuana use. Previously, drivers could be arrested and charged if they were found with any amount of THC in their system.
However, trace amounts of marijuana can remain in the body for up to 30 days even though they may no longer be affecting the user. There is no accurate way to tell when a person last used marijuana. Therefore, simply having the substance in your blood is not enough to warrant an arrest. The state must also be able the prove that your drug use impaired your ability to drive safely.
Drivers who are impaired because of marijuana use are prosecuted under Georgia’s DUI Less Safe Laws. Regardless of how much of a substance was in a person’s system, they can be charged if their impairment posed a risk to other people’s safety. They may have been driving on the wrong side of the road or weaving in and out of their lane.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
A marijuana DUI is treated in the same way as an alcohol-related DUI where penalties are concerned. A first offense is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to a year in jail. Even if you don’t get the maximum jail sentence, you will have to spend at least 24 hours in jail. You may also be sentenced to community service, probation, and participation in a risk reduction program. Your driver’s license could be suspended for up to a year. If you want to fight your DUI charge or get the minimum punishment, you need to hire a DUI lawyer in Atlanta, GA.
Each subsequent conviction results in stiffer penalties. A second offense results in anything from 72 hours to a year in jail as well as a fine of up to $1,000. In addition to the penalties associated which accompany the first offense, your license could be suspended for up to three years. You may also have to install an ignition interlock device when your license is reinstated.
Third offenses are punishable by at least 15 days in jail and license revocation for up to five years, along with the other penalties. Meanwhile, people convicted of fourth and subsequent offenses face fines of up to $5, 000, and jail sentences of up to five years. They may also lose their driver’s license permanently. If they got into an accident or they were transporting a minor, the penalties could be harsher.
Contact Howard & Arca DUI Lawyers Today to Get Professional Advice
Driving under the influence is a serious charge. Whether your charge relates to drugs or alcohol, you need an Atlanta DUI attorney to represent you. A DUI conviction is often life-changing so you must do everything you can to fight it. The legal and administrative penalties are often accompanied by social and professional consequences that most people can ill afford. If you want to improve your chances of securing the best possible outcome, reach out to Howard & Arca DUI lawyers and schedule a consultation.