The Law Explained: Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana In Texas

 

Contrary to popular belief, driving while under the influence of Marijuana may be just as serious as driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances. The penalties are the same regardless of the substance, or combination of substances.

However, when combining substances there is a greater degree of impairment. This significantly increases the chance of incidents and consequent legal issues.

Furthermore, there may be additional charges added if children are in the car. If a child is present in the vehicle at the time of arrest, a charge of child abuse may be added. 

Is there a legal limit for “driving while high”?

In most states where recreational Marijuana is legal, the legal limit for marijuana impairment while operating a vehicle is 5 Nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Regardless, the level of THC present alone does not control the outcome. Police officers typically base arrests off of observed impairment. 

How are THC levels tested during a traffic stop?

Testing for THC levels is not as easy as it seems and is often not one hundred percent accurate. This leads us to the question.. How does a law enforcement officer truly determine impairment?

Law enforcement officers around the country are trained by the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) to “gage” impairment.

Officers go through this advanced training with ARIDE and are considered experts in determining impairment. Departments also have Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) on staff that can detect impairment from a variety of substances.

There are many potential issues that could potentially arise from consuming marijuana before or while operating a motor vehicle. Marijuana consumption puts you at risk of driving impaired and it is hard to know exactly how much THC is in your system.

This is why it is best not to consume marijuana in any form if you are planning to operate a motor vehicle. Having a designated driver, or anyone else to drive you is the absolute safest option if you are under the influence of a mind altering substance.

This leads us to another important issue regarding if it is okay to drive while on prescribed medicine? and what if marijuana is my medicine in a legal state?.

Wait, isn’t Marijuana a “legal” medicine?

If a substance has impaired your ability to operate a motor vehicle it is illegal for you to be driving, even if that substance is prescribed or legally acquired. Driving while under the influence of prescription drugs is just as illegal and dangerous as driving drunk or high on illegal drugs.. 

Charges for DUI: Marijuana in Texas

The first time offender of a driving under the influence (DUI) charge from any kind of substance including Marijuana may face from 72 hours to six months in jail. 

Repeat offenders are looking at a class A misdemeanor and a fine up to $4,000. Repeat Offenders may also be sentenced thirty days to a year in jail. 

Open container laws make it illegal to have marijuana in the passenger area of a vehicle if it is in an open container, a container with a broken seal, or if there is evidence marijuana has been consumed while driving. It is illegal to consume marijuana on any public roadway.

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony drug offense involving DUI/DWI and Marijuana in Texas, contact Britt Redden, of Redden Law PLLC for a free legal consultation. Choose an experienced criminal defense Attorney in Dallas, who fights for dismissal of charges by preparing a powerful legal defense strategy.

When the Red and Blue lights are lit, call Britt!

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