If a person is pulled over by a police officer and found to be impaired while driving, they may be required to submit to sobriety tests. Driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs can result in a driving while intoxicated or DWI charge and possible conviction. In Texas, this includes individuals who are impaired due to marijuana use.
What Penalties Can You Face for a Marijuana DWI?
Law enforcement has found that there are more people who are testing positive for marijuana while behind the wheel. At the same time, the rules set in place for determining that a person has committed a marijuana DWI are not as definitive as those for an alcohol DWI. Unfortunately, this means there may be charges against a person that are unwarranted, and a savvy defense attorney can contest them. It’s important to understand the consequences of a marijuana DWI. There are specific penalties for drivers who are found to be intoxicated while behind the wheel, which include the following:
- A minimum of three days to a maximum of 180 days in prison and a fine of up to $2,000 for a first offense
- Thirty days to one year of a prison term and a fine of a maximum of $4,000 for a second offense
- Two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for a third offense
Generally speaking, there are various types of testing law enforcement officers can administer to calculate a person’s blood alcohol concentration or BAC. If their BAC is 0.08 percent or higher, the individual is considered intoxicated and breaking the law if they are driving. With marijuana in play, THC is measured instead, but there are certain issues with this type of testing, including the following:
- There is no official breath test to calculate THC levels, so blood or urine tests are required instead
- If a test is positive, it doesn’t necessarily mean the person recently used marijuana as THC can remain for weeks in the blood
- There is no specific level of THC that determines a person is impaired
What Law Enforcement Looks For
As a result of the inaccuracy of marijuana tests for DWI, the prosecutor tends to trust the word of the law enforcement officer instead. While officers don’t have training on how to identify impairment from marijuana as they do with alcohol, there are certain things they look for. They include the following:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Delayed reaction
- Increased heart rate
In spite of these factors, it’s not uncommon for these cases to be thrown out due to these symptoms matching with other conditions that have nothing to do with impairment. The truth is that many law enforcement officers simply cannot absolutely determine whether someone is truly under the influence of marijuana.
If you have been arrested for a marijuana DWI, contact the Law Offices of Ruben Ortiz at your earliest convenience.