In drunken driving cases, the driver's degree of impairment is always measured against the legal limit. In many cases, the driver may be several times the legal limit. Lawmakers have struggled to set a serviceable legal limit for marijuana impairment, and that may prove to be a fruitless effort as there are too many factors that effectively distort the functions of a limit and its ability to indicate actual marijuana impairment. Although some states accept a 5ng/mL limit, certain legal experts have called that limit arbitrary. A recent marijuana DUI case may have brought to light the failings of an established marijuana legal limit.
At most, a driver exceptionally impaired by alcohol may have a blood alcohol content as high as 8 times the legal limit although this is rare. The amount by which a driver exceeds the legal limit could reasonably be used by a prosecutor to portray the crime as especially reprehensible. That being said, how may one fairly gauge the scale of impairment and the comparative degree of recklessness if a driver can be found to be as much 54 times the legal limit. Does that not bespeak a flaw in the legal limit that has been set for marijuana impairment while driving?
An unnamed man of Lynnwood, WA was arrested on May 20 at 6:20 pm for driving under the influence. He was allegedly also involved in a hit and run 20 minutes prior to the traffic stop. Witnesses phoned 911 to report the hit and run and Washington State Troopers were able to apprehend the man, who they noted showed signs of intoxication. Months after obtaining a warrant and completing a blood draw, the toxicology lab has returned its results: 270 nanograms of THC.
The driver was clearly far too impaired to operate a motor vehicle, but if impairment can reach as high as 54 times what the legislature has set, does that mean they have set it too low? Or are there simply more nuances in the way marijuana interacts with the body, effectively preventing a functional legal limit? This remains to be seen.
In a press release, the state patrol stated: “Marijuana, like other controlled substances, can impair a driver's ability. In Washington, impaired driving is one of the leading factors in traffic deaths. This includes drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, marijuana and other drugs—prescription or illegal. Not including alcohol, marijuana continues to be one of the most frequently-occurring drugs among drivers involved in deadly crashes.”
When it comes to effectively policing the offense of marijuana DUIs, there may be a long way to go. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol in Fulton County, do not hesitate to contact Fulton County DUI attorney Richard Lawson for a free consultation.