In Georgia, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of marijuana, subjecting you to criminal penalties. Law enforcement officers are always on the lookout for impaired drivers, and if an officer smells the distinct odor of marijuana, you are more than likely to be arrested and charged.
An arrest for marijuana DUI can have a significant impact on your driving privileges, and therefore your life. Without the ability to drive, your freedoms are greatly limited and you may have difficulty getting to work or maintaining employment. An experienced Fulton County Marijuana DUI lawyer knows the law and how to fight for your rights.
The Common Scenario
Most DUI stops occur as a result of erratic driving or crossing lines on the road. With marijuana DUI, the stop commonly occurs as the result of a routine traffic violation, such as failing to signal or speeding. As the police officer approaches, you roll down your window.
The officer then claims to smell burnt or even "raw" marijuana. This then leads to the officer conducting field sobriety tests or observations which lead him or her to determine that you are "high." The officer will claim to see symptoms consistent with marijuana use such as:
- red eyes,
- slow speech,
- and delayed reaction time.
Field sobriety tests are designed for testing alcohol impairment and are highly inaccurate in determining the influence of marijuana. However, police do it anyway, leading to possible false arrests.
Testing for Marijuana Impairment
Breathalyzer tests, common in DUI cases, are not able to detect the presence of marijuana for purposes of determining intoxication. If law enforcement suspects that marijuana affected your driving, they will administer a blood test.
Blood tests look for THC metabolites, a byproduct of the body's processes. These metabolites can exist in your blood for up to a month, long after when they have finished causing any psychoactive effect. This test, coupled with the field sobriety tests, will be used against you to "prove" you were intoxicated.
Penalties for Marijuana DUI
If you are convicted of marijuana DUI, you can expect the following penalties.
- First Offense: A charge that carries a fine of up to $1,000 and 24 hours in jail, with up to one year of jail time possible. You may also be given community service, enrollment in a risk-reduction program, and probation.
- Second Offense: A charge that carries a fine of up to $1,000 and a minimum of 72 hours to one year in jail. A risk-reduction program is likely to be required, along with community service and mandatory alcohol and drug treatment. There is a likely license suspension of up to three years and you will possibly have to install an ignition interlock device.
- Third Offense: A minimum of 15 days to one year in jail. Community service, drug or alcohol treatment, and license revocation for five years. Use of ignition interlock device is likely.
- Fourth Offense: A fourth DUI offense is a felony with fines up to $5,000, possible permanent revocation of your driver's license, and 90 days to five years in jail.