Las Vegas DUI and Marijuana Laws
There is no exception for medical marijuana patients to avoid prosecution for DWI in Las Vegas, Nevada even absent any actual evidence of impaired driving if testing shows more than 2 nanograms of marijuana per milliliter or 5 nanograms of marijuana metabolite (a nanogram is a billionth of a gram, and a milliliter is 1/1000th of a liter).
This also is true if the person tests positive for Carboxy–Tetrahydrocannabinol (“Carboxy–THC”), a non-impairing metabolite of Cannabis. This is problematic for medical marijuana patients because Hydroxy-Tetrahydrocannabinol (“Hydroxy–THC”) does not exist in the blood for very long and is quickly converted to Carboxy–THC which can remain in a person’s body for as many as twenty-eight to thirty days after the ingestion of marijuana.
Two things to know: (1) this is a stricter standard than exists for cocaine or heroin (50 nanograms per milliliter of blood), methamphetamine (100 nanograms) or LSD (10 nanograms); and (2) medical marijuana is treated differently from prosecutions involving other prescription medications such as Percocet, Lortab or Oxycontin where actual impairment must be proved.
One of the most common drug charges in Las Vegas is possession and consumption of marijuana or DUI and marijuana. Driving under the influence of marijuana has the same harsh penalties as drunk driving does. And even if you are not technically under the influence of marijuana while driving, there is still a chance of being convicted if your blood or urine has sufficient traces of it.
Cannabis metabolites remain in the blood stream much longer than any illegal substance. These remnants can remain in the system for several weeks even if the user did not consume any marijuana on the day of the arrest. It is important to seek for an expert Las Vegas DUI lawyer in Las Vegas to help get your case either reduced to a lesser charge or even dismissed.
Marijuana Consumption and DUI
Per Se Laws on DWI of marijuana makes it a crime to drive if any of the following conditions is true:
- Blood contains 2 nanograms per ml. of marijuana OR 5 nanograms per ml. of marijuana per metabolite, or
- Ingested marijuana “to a degree which renders you incapable of safely driving or exercising actual physical control of a vehicle,” or
- Urine contains 10 nanogram per ml. of marijuana OR 15 nanograms of marijuana per metabolite
Having traces of marijuana in your system is sufficient for law enforcers to arrest you for impaired driving, it is deemed as “illegal per se” even if you are driving safely.
If the law enforcers pull you over, the officers will ask questions, most likely to ask you to take a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT), or observe your behavior. Passing the breath test is not enough; the law enforcers may suspect that you have ingested marijuana rather than alcohol if any of the following are true:
- Dilated pupils;
- Smell of marijuana;
- Failed the Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs);
- Body or eyelid tremors;
- Showing signs of short-term memory impairment;
- Relaxed and uninhibited behaviors.
There is a chance that an officer with specialized Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE) training will join in the investigation. The officers will check your pulse, dry mouth, or blood pressure. If the officers finds any marijuana in your possession, you may be charged with possession.
Once pulled over for suspicion, the law assumes that every driver have given “implied consent” to evidentiary tests such as urine and blood testing. For operating under the influence of marijuana, the law enforcers can order up to 3 samples within a 5-hour time span following the initial arrest.
The tests measures the amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the driver’s blood or urine by chemical tests. Your personal tolerance to marijuana, how much you ingested, and how concentrated the THC was, can be determined through their system.
Suspension of Driver’s License
You can keep your driver’s license until the results come back from the lab and found positive for marijuana. Once positive, the DMV will notify you by mail that your license has been suspended and you have a right to a DMV hearing to contest it.
DUI because of marijuana in Las Vegas is almost identical to regular DUI penalties. The prosecutor will bring felony charges if:
- You have 2 convictions in the last 7 years.
- The incident resulted in an accident that caused serious injury or killed another person.
- 2 days to 6 months in jail or 24 to 96 hours of community service.
- DUI School at your expense;
- $400 to $1,000 fines, plus court costs;
- Victim Impact Panel;
- Suspension of driver’s license for 90 days.
Second Offense within 7 Years:
- Residential confinement or 10 days to 6 months in jail;
- $750 to $1,000 fines or commensurate hours of community service;
- Victim Impact Panel;
- A $100 alcohol/drug dependency evaluation;
- DUI Court – An alcohol or drug abuse treatment program.
Third Offense within 7 years
- 1 to 6 years in prison;
- $2,000 to $5,000 fine;
- Victim Impact Pane;
- Suspension or revocation of driver’s license;
- Alcohol and drug evaluation.
DUI of Marijuana causing injury or death
- 2 to 20 years in prison;
- $2,000 to $5,000 fines;
- If the driver has 3 or more driving under the influence convictions, the charge will be promoted to vehicular homicide. The incarceration for vehicular homicide is 25-years or life sentence with possible parole after 10 years.
The Defense: Establishing Probable Cause
There are chances of having your Las Vegas DWI marijuana case reduced to a lesser charges like reckless driving or simple possession, or even get dismissed. Getting a skilled driving under the influence attorney who is knowledgeable on Nevada laws can help you explore these possibilities:
- Law enforcer’s mistakes and faulty equipment give inaccurate results;
- Insufficient or lack of probable cause;
- Not under the influence of marijuana.
Being charged with marijuana DUI in Las Vegas is a serious case and should be handled by lawyers who have extensive experience in criminal defense. Ross C. Goodman, Esq. of Goodman Criminal Defense Attorney is skilled not only with drinking and driving laws, but also with Nevada statutes which are the strictest in the country.With his aggressive defense, he successfully wins even the most complex cases. Contact a criminal defense attorney and get help with your drunk driving and marijuana case.