Is It Possible for Marijuana to Impair Your Driving?
With passage of the new medical marijuana law in Oklahoma, more Oklahomans may soon be using marijuana legally. This raises concerns among law enforcement about impaired driving, and concerns among ordinary citizens about unnecessary roadside arrests when people are not actually “impaired”.
Oklahoma has strict DWI laws that prohibit any “impaired” driving, even if you are impaired because of a legal drug and have a prescription. Driving erratically after using marijuana is no exception. Substances that could impair you include those that are “capable of being ingested, inhaled, injected or absorbed into the human body and are capable of adversely affecting the central nervous system, vision, hearing or other sensory or motor functions”.
Marijuana can affect your sensory and motor functions, but maybe not to the degree demonized by some anti-drug crusaders. While some studies indicate that marijuana significantly impairs your ability to drive safely, the NHTSA recently found that those conclusions may not be accurate. The NHTSA did a study that controlled for the effects of drivers’ age, gender, race, and presence of alcohol on car crashes. It concludes that in the crashes studied, there was “no significant increased crash risk attributable to cannabis”. Driving under the influence of marijuana may not be as risky as some claim.
Unlike the breathalyzer for alcohol, there is no reliable test for levels of marijuana sufficient to cause “impairment” under the law. It is entirely subjective as to whether you are actually impaired while driving. As a result, you have several possible defenses available if you are arrested for DUI and accused of driving impaired.
Further, police often use minor traffic violations – rather than actual erratic driving or an accident – as excuses to pull motorists over and accuse them of DUI. If they smell marijuana in the car, an arrest and search of the car is highly likely. Showing the police a medical marijuana license is unlikely to convince them that a driver is not impaired, especially since the Oklahoma marijuana laws are just going into effect.
If you are in this situation, speak to a lawyer about your options. You may be able to get the charges against you reduced or dropped, and you may be able to get your driver’s license back. Act quickly, since you only have a short time to contest the license revocation after your arrest.
Have you been charged with a DUI for being under the influence of marijuana in Oklahoma? Clint Patterson, Esq., of Patterson Law Firm, a former Tulsa prosecutor now using his trial experience and expert-level knowledge of DUI science to defend drivers, can advise you on the additional penalties you may face if convicted. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Patterson Law Firm online or call Clint’s office at (918) 550-9175.