A growing number of people in Virginia and across the country are facing DUI charges based on allegations of driving under the influence of cannabis. As more and more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, some say that the threat of drugged driving has risen even as alcohol intoxication while driving has decreased. However, while alcohol-related DUI and drunk driving charges are often relatively clear, there is no such clarity regarding cannabis and DUI. There is no cannabis equivalent of the BAC, the legal limit on alcohol consumption while driving.
As a result, people have faced DUI charges for any amount of cannabis found in the blood, despite the fact that it may be old and irrelevant to the driver’s operation of a vehicle. One device that has simplified drunk driving prosecutions in past decades is the Breathalyzer, a machine that measures the amount of alcohol on a driver’s breath. It was widely debated when first introduced but is now considered more reliable than police testimony or field sobriety tests. Scientists and private companies are working to develop a device to measure the amount of cannabis a person consumed before driving.
One prototype detects the amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, on a driver’s breath. However, it is not clear whether THC in breath correlates with any particular level of intoxication. In addition, there is no evidence linking a particular amount of cannabis consumption to poor driving behavior.
Many people are facing serious DUI charges after being accused of driving under the influence of cannabis. They may face heavy fines, jail time or the loss of their driver’s license. People accused of drunk driving or drugged driving can contact a criminal defense attorney to challenge the allegations and work to protect their rights.