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Drug-Related DUI

You can be charged with driving under the influence in Washington state if a blood draw shows that your system contains illegal drugs such as cocaine or a legal drug like marijuana or even prescription drugs such as Ambien or Oxycontin. If you are accused of driving under the influence of any drug, you should contact a defense attorney as soon as possible. There are ways a veteran defense attorney can defend these charges.

At The Law Offices of Smith and White, PLLC, our lawyers offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. With offices in Tacoma and Seattle, our attorneys handle drug-related DUI cases throughout western Washington state, Pierce County, King County and the Puget Sound area.

Defending Drug-Related DUI Cases

Before you can be charged with drug-related DUI in Washington state, the police officer first has to rule out alcohol with a properly administered portable breath test. After alcohol is ruled out, the officer is required to call a drug recognition expert or DRE to respond. You can be detained while police are waiting for the DRE to arrive, but not an unreasonable amount of time. If you are required to wait more than an hour, we could win your case.

The DRE is required to follow a specific protocol to test skin flaccidity, blood pressure, pupil dilation, and other issues. The DRE will also ask you about the drugs you used. Depending on the outcome of the tests, the DRE can order a blood draw. If the blood draw tests positive for a drug, you could be charged with DUI.

In most cases, the blood draw results can be challenged. For example, the drug in your system could have been metabolized from several days ago. There may be other defenses for prescription drugs where you may have had no intent to drive under the influence. Our lawyers have defended people charged will all types of drug-related DUI, including "sleep driving" under the influence of Ambien.

If the accusation involved an illegal drug, you may also be facing possession charge. At Smith & White, PLLC we can counsel and defend for both charges.

The Special Case of Marijuana

You may be thinking, “Marijuana is legal in Washington! How can I be being charged with this?” As you have just discovered, there are limits to this legalization.

Keep in mind that alcohol is also a legal substance. Yet, you can get arrested and charged with DUI if you’re impaired behind the wheel. The same is true for any intoxicating substance including legal ones like prescribed drugs or marijuana. So you can get a DUI for being impaired by marijuana while driving. In fact, due to its legalization – the law has added a legal limit just like there is one for alcohol and that is determined by a blood test. The legal limit is 5ng of THC in the blood. A DUI for marijuana has the same potential penalties as a DUI for alcohol. A first offense is classified as a misdemeanor and has maximum penalties of a year in jail, a $5000 fine and 90 days of license suspension. Subsequent offenses have even stiffer penalties and can even lead to a felony charge.


Now you may be wondering, “Well what is huffing? I’ve never heard of that.” Actually almost everybody has heard of the action if not the term and most people associate it with teenagers or even younger children. Huffing is the inhaling of certain substances that will intoxicate a person. That is why we associate this action with children. Many children’s first experience of a high is gotten by sniffing model glue, lighter fluid or the whiteboard markers. Sadly, this has often caused lifetime physical or mental problems and has all too often led to death. That is one reason the public is told of the practice and why the law makes it illegal for children and also for adults. The law even lists the chemicals that are illegal to inhale before driving. Some of them are common enough that most people have heard of them such as chloroform and acetone. Most of the chemical names are obscure but the sources are very common such as gasoline vapors, Sharpie pens, glue, paint, paint thinner, and the list could go on and on. The same penalties apply for a DUI based on suspected huffing as a DUI based on drinking or consuming more traditional drugs. That’s why you need the help of a DUI defense attorney.

Now is the time to ask yourself some questions. Were you actually intentionally huffing or did you just happen to be working with an inhalant and more was in your system than you thought? Huffing is actually rarely done by adults. But working with these inhalants is not uncommon. You could have been painting the interior of a house. You could have been working on your car in a closed garage. You could have been working in a factory or salon and not enough of the inhalant was being ventilated out. It is illegal to intentionally inhale these substances for the purpose of intoxication. But it is not illegal to work with them and unintentional intoxication can happen. This could work for a defense. By the way if you are in a situation akin to the last example and the large amount of inhalants was due to your workplace you may not only be innocent but they may be legally culpable. Although homeowners are not necessarily expected to know this potential danger of inhalable chemicals or what would be the right amount of ventilation workplaces that use inhalants are expected to be aware of both facts and make sure that they ventilating appropriately to erase the risk of intoxication.

Contact Our Tacoma Blood Test Defense Lawyers

To discuss your case with our Tacoma DUI drug defense lawyers, call (253) 203-1645 or send us an e-mail through this website. We will arm you with the information you need to make sound decisions about your case. Call or e-mail the law office of Smith & White, PLLC – your free case analysis awaits you.

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