Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ithaca DWAI Lawyer: Stoned Driving is Different State to State

This country is at a crossroads in many respects. We are experiencing a dramatic liberalization of marijuana laws amongst the majority of states. I bump into more and more people, young and old who are smoking pot. It's not just for kids anymore, if it ever was?

But the confusion is only beginning with understanding what the law actually is and what it means when it comes to Stoned Driving? When is high, too high to drive? Where are the lines or thresholds for marijuana use from state to state? In New York State when am I too high to drive a car? Does New York prove DWAI drugs by blood or urine?

The United States Has Four Different Marijuana Laws When it Comes to DUI/ DWAI Drugs 

Just how un-united the United States is can be seen by our current marijuana laws. We are all over the board when it comes to any consistency with pot and DWAI drugs/DUI drugs. No-one can agree on what driving while stoned really means, especially with THC. Some states you need a specific number, some states you need a blood test, some states the blood must reveal delta-9, some states the blood doesn't matter, some states allow urine, and it goes on and on.

Imagine smoking pot with your medical marijuana card in CA (easy to get) and landing in Philadelphia, PA. Now driving in PA with ANY illegal drug active or metabolite is a NO-NO. You get stopped for speeding, eyes look funky, jet-lag, blood test demanded (requested?), and bang you are guilty of DUI-drugs in PA.


1. Some states are "per se" and have a specific legal threshold of active nanograms of THC.

The states of CO, WA, MO, NV, and Ohio all have specific numbers (2 nanogram to 5 nanogram) that must be active delta-9 THC in the blood to prove impairment of driving. Remember that a nanogram is a billionth of a gram. Pot has a steep rise soon after smoking into the hundreds of nano but then a huge fall. These are the "per se" states, and are similar in many respects to the current DWI alcohol level laws of .08 BAC (blood alcohol concentration).

In contrast Pennsylvania, is an any amount of illegal drug in your system (metabolite or active) state. Meaning at the time of driving if there is proof of THC (active or metabolized) you are DUI Drugs.

So all the illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, and marijuana whether in active or metabolite (end/waste product form) proves DUI drugs, and your guilt in PA. With an illegal drug/substance in PA you don't even have to prove impaired driving.

2. Some states are any amount of THC or use of THC States BUT you must be prove impaired driving.

Driving while under the influence of THC, driving while being impaired by THC, driving while incapacitated by THC all share one common distinction because they ALL mean that THC is affecting your abilities. These functional deficits can be both mental and physical, like in NYS or in other states just mental or just physical. This makes more sense because aren't the laws trying to prevent people from driving in an impaired state or condition? Some states don't even require impairment of driving like PA.

3. In some states you must have a blood test to prove DUI drugged driving.

In NYS you can prove DWAI drugs by THC many different ways: they can use a blood test, but you can also just admit to smoking, or they can find evidence of smoking (pipe/joint), or you can be found in possession in a book bag or purse, or the cops can do a drug recognition evaluation and say you are stoned.

There are many different ways to prove you are DWAI drugs. But in some states like New Jersey you must have a blood test, having an officer testify to how you performed on field tests or a drug recognition exam is NOT enough.

In some states like Florida, you can prove DUI Drugs (THC) with a urine test. Even though a urine test would only reveal metabolites, and that the pot has been in your system for weeks or even a month prior.

4. In Some states if you have a blood test it must have delta 9 active substance THC to prove DWAI drugs.

In New York State THC DWAI (driving while ability impaired) by drugs can be disproven if your blood comes back negative for delta 9 THC. So I know this is all confusing but a blood test in New York can actually exonerate you if it fails to reveal Delta-9 THC.

If it just reveals metabolites of Delta-9 THC, i.e. carboxy or hydroxy THC then you were not DWAI drugs. Now any evidence of drug use (non-definitive) but a blood test can be used to prove you were driving high in New York.

If you are thinking a lot of this makes NO sense at all, join the crowd. Marijuana now more ever easily obtained, even legally. It's becoming more and more socially acceptable by every class and group in our society. It is also become more potent, powerful, and in forms easily digested, like cookies and candy bars but where are we going when it comes to prosecuting DUI and DWAI drugs?