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Washington Court Assesses DUI Charges Arising Out of Marijuana Use

Carl-Sagan-high-300x300Under Washington law, it is legal for people to use marijuana recreationally. However, they must abide by certain restrictions and laws regarding the safe use of marijuana. If they do not, they may be charged with crimes. This was illustrated recently in a Washington ruling issued in a DUI case in which the court rejected the defendant’s assertion that he had a constitutional right to use marijuana without restriction. If you are charged with a DUI crime, it is smart to speak to a dedicated Tacoma DUI defense attorney at Smith and White, PLLC regarding your rights as soon as possible.

Factual Background of the Case

It is reported that pursuant to Washington law, people can be convicted of DUI if, within two hours after driving, they have a THC concentration that is 5.00 nanograms per milliliter or higher, as illustrated by an analysis of their blood. The defendant was charged with and convicted of violating the marijuana DUI law after it was determined that his blood THC level was 9.4 nanograms per milliliter within two hours of driving. He appealed, arguing that the prong of the DUI statute regulating marijuana use was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad and was not a legitimate exercise of the legislature’s police power.

DUI Charges Arising Out of Marijuana Use

The appellate court rejected the defendant’s reasoning and affirmed his conviction. It explained that laws passed by the people through initiatives, like the DUI marijuana provisions, are presumed to be constitutional, and those individuals challenging the constitutionality of a law bear the burden of proving their position beyond a reasonable doubt. A party meets this burden if the research and arguments show that there is no reasonable doubt that the law violates the constitution.

Under Washington law, the legislature may enact laws that promote the safety, peace, health, and general welfare of the people of Washington. The legislature has broad discretion to determine what measures are needed to protect the public interest. The appellate court explained that the legislature properly exercises its police power if it passes a law that tends to correct an evil or promote an interest of the state and bears a significant and reasonable relationship to accomplishing its purpose.

Further, unless the measures adopted by the legislature are demonstrably unreasonable and arbitrary so as to unnecessarily violate personal or property rights protected by the constitution, the legislature’s judgment will prevail. In the subject case, the appellate court found that, contrary to the defendant’s assertion, the 5.00 nanograms per millimeter DUI limit was substantially and rationally related to preventing impaired driving and promoting highway safety. As such, it denied the defendant’s appeal.

Meet with an Experienced Tacoma Criminal Defense Lawyer

While marijuana use is legal in Washington, people can nonetheless face DUI charges if they use marijuana in a manner that the legislature deems unlawful. If you are accused of a marijuana-related DUI, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to discuss your possible defenses. The experienced Tacoma criminal defense lawyers of The Law Offices of Smith & White can inform you of your options for pursuing the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. You can contact us via our form online or by calling us at 253-203-1645 to set up a meeting.

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