Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana—a Schedule I controlled substance—is a felony. In Georgia, a driver can be charged with “drugged driving” if he or she was in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. Marijuana can create a positive blood test for up to a month after you smoke or ingest it, so a blood test could be positive and you could be incorrectly charged. This is the “per se” law in Georgia, which states that you cannot have any amount of any drug in your system when driving.
Having a Georgia driver’s license is a contract, and you agree to chemical testing if requested. Refusing means your license is automatically suspended, and you have 10 days to save your right to drive by requesting an administrative review hearing.
Marijuana DUI Penalties
Driving under the influence of marijuana can have the following consequences which warrant contact with a marijuana DUI lawyer in Georgia:
- First offense: a misdemeanor, but carries a fine of up to $1,000 and 24 hours in jail, with further jail time of a year possible. Community service, probation, and enrollment in a risk reduction program are likely.
- Second offense: 72 hours in jail, with possible additional time of up to one year; a fine of up to $1,000. Community service, probation, and mandatory alcohol or drug treatment, as well as a risk reduction program, are likely, as is license suspension of up to three years and possibly an ignition interlock device.
- Third offense: 15 days in jail and up to a year, community service, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, and probation; license revocation for five years; an ignition interlock device is likely.
- Fourth offense and after: a felony. Fines up to $5,000, 90 days to five years in jail, and possibly permanent vehicle loss.
Penalties could be harsher if you were transporting a child while under the influence or had an accident.
You Could Lose Your Driver’s License Even if you Were Not Driving
If you are arrested for a contraband substance charge, such as marijuana possession, that might be categorized due to the small quantity as a misdemeanor. That can cost you the ability to drive if it is not handled correctly. Possession of marijuana it does not even have to be in an automobile. You can be walking down the sidewalk and get arrested for that and it could cost you the ability to drive if it is not handled right.
A Georgia marijuana DUI lawyer will do what they can to make sure that you do not lose the right to drive and also not have a marijuana charge on your record. Do not think that won’t be important if you are applying for certain jobs because for some people a drug charge is far worse than even a DUI alcohol charge, even if it is simple possession.
Tests Used to Detect Marijuana
Although law enforcement agencies often use breathalyzers in DUI cases, they are not appropriate for detecting substances other than alcohol. Therefore, if an officer suspects you are under the influence of marijuana or other drugs, a blood test will instead be administered to help the officer determine whether you are truly impaired.
To detect marijuana, blood tests look for certain THC metabolites that your body forms after using the drug. In the past, if the test found even a trace of THC, you could be arrested and charged with driving under the influence. However, now that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) classifies THC as non-psychoactive, simply having the substance in your bloodstream is not enough to warrant your arrest—the state must also prove that you were impaired.
Understanding the “Less Safe” Legal Standard
Unlike alcohol, THC can remain in a person’s bloodstream for up to thirty days. Since there is no way to determine when the drug was last used, the state uses its Less Safe DUI laws to prosecute motorists for driving under the influence of marijuana.
Under Georgia’s Less Safe DUI statute, your ability to drive must be impaired to such an extent that you pose a risk to the safety of others. In other words, you must show some sign of impairment—such as weaving, driving on the wrong side of the road, or swerving, for example. In addition to meeting the less safe requirement, your blood test must find the psychoactive component of THC (11-hydroxy-THC) in your system.
Contacting Legal Representation
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana or any other drug or alcohol, call a Georgia marijuana DUI lawyer with our firm today for a free consultation. We are ready to get to work for you.