“What is a DUI?”

When faced with this question, most people think “driving under the influence” (DUI) relates only to driving while impaired by alcohol. However, that’s not the case.

In Kentucky, the laws related to driving under the influence (DUI) specify a number of substances that that will result in criminal charges if they are found in your bloodstream, within two hours of driving. However, if you have a valid prescription for those substances, the prosecution also has to also prove actual impairment.

Some may be surprised to learn that Marijuana is the only Schedule I drug exempted from this list (It has not been on the list since 2010). This means prosecutors must still prove that the marijuana was impairing your driving ability at the time you were stopped by the police. To prove impairment, the prosecuting attorney can point to any observed evidence, including bad driving, field sobriety tests and blood test results.

In a “typical” drunk driving case, the best evidence a prosecutor has is a blood alcohol test that shows that you have alcohol in your blood. Because alcohol is processed by the human body at such a consistent rate, this is an indication that you have been drinking recently. This allows prosecutors to roughly calculate how much alcohol was in your system when you took the test. Given alcohol’s consistent behavior in the body, there is even a formula to estimate what your blood alcohol level was when you were driving the vehicle, even if it was several hours before the blood test was administered.

Unlike alcohol, Marijuana is extremely unpredictable. Regular users of marijuana can maintain levels of the active ingredient, Delta-9, in their blood for up to seven days after last ingesting it. However, studies show that marijuana users remain “high” for only 3 to 5 hours after its use, so clearly someone who has not used in the seven days, before being stopped by the police would no longer be impaired.

This happens because Delta 9 will attach itself to the fat in a user’s body and then leach out into the bloodstream over time. Studies have found that an individual’s Delta-9 level has increased, even days after their last use of marijuana. The bottom line is that the mere presence of marijuana’s active ingredient, Delta-9, in your blood at the time you are tested does not mean that you were impaired at the time you were driving

This is why it is so important to have a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with and completely understands marijuana DUIs in particular. If you –or someone you know – has been charged with a marijuana DUI, please contact me to discuss your options. I’ll carefully review the specifics of your case, including all the blood test and other evidence prosecutors might present, and we’ll develop a solid plan to defend you against these charges. You can reach me at 859-242-3487, via e-mail at criminaldefenselex@gmail.com or via my website, www.CriminalDefenseLex.com.