DUI cases in King County based on marijuana and THC concentrations can be very tricky and are not something you want to handle on your own. They require the knowledge and experience of a marijuana DUI attorney in Seattle. At Emerald City Law Group, we are prepared to take on your drugged DUI. We understand how arbitrary Washington’s THC legal limit is and will aggressively fight for you while also pursuing the minimal consequences possible. To schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your situation and all your options, call 206-973-0407 as soon as possible.
If you are facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana, contact a Seattle marijuana DUI lawyer right away. Marijuana DUI law is complex and controversial in the state of Washington. Due to the peculiarities and nuances of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), you could have a THC blood concentration over the legal limit without being impaired. This is particularly common if you are over 21-years-old and regularly use medical and recreational marijuana, which is legal in Washington.
Washington Marijuana DUI Laws
Most states, Washington included, have provisions for DUI charges based on drug-related impairment. Under Washington DUI law, Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.502, you can be found guilty of a DUI if you drive a vehicle within the state and you:
- Are under the influence of or affected by an intoxicating liquor, marijuana, any drug, or any combination of these;
- Have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher within two hours of driving; or
- Have a THC blood concentration of 5.0 or higher within two hours of driving.
Additionally, RCW 46.61.504 states you can be charged and convicted of a crime if you are in actual physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or a drug in Washington. If within two hours of being in actual physical control of a vehicle, other than driving, you have a BAC of .08 percent or higher or a THC concentration of 5.0 or higher then you will be charged. You can also be charged with a crime if you are in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence or affected by a liquor a drug.
When You May be Charged with a Marijuana DUI
What do these laws really mean? It is clear that you can be arrested and charged with a DUI if you have a specific amount of THC in your blood when you are driving or are in actual physical control of a vehicle, which can mean many things like you are sitting in a running vehicle or are in the vehicle and have the keys within reach. There are also situations that are less black and white. You can be arrested and charged with a DUI if the officer observes signs of drug-related impairment when you were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle.
Ultimately, if the officer believes you are high, you may be arrested. Even if a blood test comes back with a THC concentration less than 5.0, you could still be charged. Prosecutors will move forward with marijuana DUI charges if they believe they have enough evidence without a THC concentration above the legal limit to win a conviction.
Underage Marijuana DUI
If you are under 21 years old, then a different standard applies to you while driving. Based on RCW 46.61.503, you can be arrested for a DUI if you have a BAC of .02 percent or higher or have any THC in your blood within two hours of driving. Adults over the age of 21 can have a THC concentration up to 4.0 and potentially escape DUI charges. However, any detectable THC in your blood when you are underage can have serious consequences.
THC Concentration Controversy
The legal THC limit is controversial for many reasons, including that a specific THC level does not correlate to impairment, and the amount of THC that remains in a person’s blood is highly individual.
While alcohol is water soluble, THC dissolves in fat. It moves very quickly from a person’s blood stream to their fatty tissue, which includes the brain. This means the amount of THC in a person’s blood does not equate to a specific level of impairment. A person can be high with a low THC blood concentration and not inebriated with a higher THC blood concentration.
There is a general window for when alcohol will remain in your system and for how long, yet there is no typical timeframe for THC. The amount of THC that remains in a person’s body after having smoked or ingested a THC product varies a great deal based on the individual. This is a significant issue for regular marijuana users. The occasional user may expect the drug to be mostly out of their system in a few hours. However, if you are a regular marijuana user, your body will continuously have higher THC levels. A blood test conduct by the police could detect a considerable amount of THC hours or days after you imbibed. Depending on how often you use marijuana, the amount of THC you last consumed, and a variety of lifestyle factors, you could have a THC concentration of 5.0 despite not having smoked or consumed a THC product recently.
Penalties for Marijuana Related DUI Convictions
If you are charged with a marijuana DUI, you will face a gross misdemeanor, punishable by
- Up to 364 days in jail
- 15 days of electronic home monitoring (EHM)
- Up to a $5,000 fine
- 90-day driver’s license suspension
Depending on the situation, you may also be ordered to participate in a drug assessment or counseling or complete community services. You can also expect your punishment to extend beyond the statutory penalties.
A conviction for a gross misdemeanor creates a permanent criminal record that can lead to:
- Difficulty getting into college
- Difficulty obtaining financial aid, including grants and scholarships
- Ineligibility for or difficulty obtaining certain professional licenses
- Difficulty getting a job or moving up in your career
- Difficulty being approved for an apartment
- Effects on your immigration status, including a visa, permanent residency, or citizenship
- Difficulty traveling abroad, including to Canada
Is Medical Marijuana a Defense?
If you use marijuana to treat a medical condition and have been charged with a marijuana DUI, contact us immediately. Medical marijuana is not an affirmative defense under Washington law. However, it may be an important factor in your case. When you have been charged because of having a THC concentration over the legal limit in your blood, yet this is likely due to your consistent, medical-related use and not due to inebriation at the time of the traffic stop, then we will aggressively fight for the charges to be dropped. If prosecutors move forward with charges, we will put forward evidence that you were not impaired at the time of the traffic stop.
Defense Against a Marijuana DUI Charge in Seattle
No matter the circumstance that led to your marijuana DUI arrest in Seattle or elsewhere in King County, we will thoroughly investigate your case, gather evidence on your behalf, and build you the strongest defense possible under the law. For optimal defense against your DUI charge, call a Seattle DUI attorney in King County at 206-973-0407. We can discuss your specific case in a free initial consultation. Depending on the facts of the case, we may focus on the inaccuracy of THC a concentration in regard to determining inebriation while also presenting evidence that you were not impaired at the time. The circumstances may also call for challenging the validity and reliability of the test itself, particularly if it was not administered property and by a qualified professional.
How a Seattle DUI Lawyer Can Help
A lot of question come up if you are charged with a DUI in Washington State.
At Emerald City Law Group, we are here to answer them and advise you on what to expect after a DUI. Once we are on your case, we will conduct a thorough investigation to get all the facts, obtain the evidence that may benefit or hurt your case, and will determine the strongest possible defenses for your situation.
Depending on the situation, we can fight for the charges to be dropped or reduced, pursue a plea agreement, or prepare for trial. We will use all our resources to avoid a conviction entirely or minimize the penalties and collateral consequences.
If you have been charged with a DUI in or around King County, Washington, let us explain how we can help. Contact us online or call 206-973-0407 to schedule a consultation.