Probable Cause and Marijuana DUI Investigations
Officers must have probable cause to arrest you for a marijuana DUI. Even before pulling you over to investigate, an officer needs to have a reasonable suspicion that you committed or are in the process of committing a crime or that you are about to commit a crime. If an officer stops you, they will conduct an investigation into whether there is probable cause for a marijuana or other DUI. If you are facing a charge for marijuana DUI in Washington, it is important to take the charge seriously. You should consult the Tacoma marijuana DUI lawyers at Smith & White.Probable Cause and Marijuana DUI Investigations
Under RCW 46.61.502(1), it is illegal to drive under the influence of a drug such as marijuana. If an officer has probable cause to believe that you committed a marijuana DUI, they can arrest you.
Probable cause can include any facts or evidence that would make a reasonable person think that a crime had already been committed, was in progress, or was about to happen. An officer’s initial observations of unusual or suspicious conduct before they stopped you, such as observing you weaving or speeding, are insufficient to establish probable cause for a marijuana DUI arrest even if those observations are enough to establish the reasonable suspicion needed to make the initial stop. Grounds for a reasonable suspicion to pull over a driver include swerving, taking turns too wide, running stop signs, speeding, not signaling, throwing trash out the window, going over the center line, or having an expired registration.
During the stop, the officer will investigate whether there is probable cause to think that you are driving under the influence of marijuana. Probable cause is more significant than reasonable suspicion. An officer can establish probable cause to arrest you for a marijuana DUI during a stop by observing you, by asking questions, and by administering field sobriety tests. Once an officer has pulled you over, certain physical signs could constitute probable cause to believe that you are driving under the influence of marijuana. These include signs that you lack coordination, your eyes are bloodshot, or you have speech irregularities.
If you are suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana, you may be asked to go through tests administered by an officer who is trained in drug recognition. The officer’s goal is to figure out whether you have been impaired due to drugs. You may be asked to take field sobriety tests. In a 2016 ruling, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that a driver’s refusal to take a field sobriety test can be used against them in court.
If you voluntarily admit that you have been smoking marijuana when you are asked, this can also provide probable cause for an officer to arrest you.Chemical Testing
If you are arrested for a marijuana DUI, you will be asked to take a chemical test. Since there is no breath test for marijuana, you will likely be asked to submit to blood testing. The blood test revealing what your THC concentration was will usually be provided to your attorney as part of the initial package of discovery. When THC levels are high, the results are likely to be used as evidence that you were impaired, or they may be used to pursue a per se charge.
However, if there was no reasonable suspicion to pull you over or no probable cause to arrest you for a marijuana DUI, your attorney may be able to move to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the arrest, such as a chemical test establishing that you had THC in your body. Like other crimes, a marijuana DUI must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Without sufficient evidence to establish a marijuana DUI beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor will not be able to secure a conviction. They may be willing to dismiss the charges or negotiate a more favorable plea deal.Consult an Experienced DUI Lawyer in Tacoma to Understand Your Options
If you are arrested for a marijuana DUI, you should consult the Law Offices of Smith & White to find out your next steps and what you can do to fight the charge. Based in the Tacoma area, we represent clients in Pierce, King, Kitsap, and Thurston Counties. Call us at (253) 203-1645 or complete our online form.