In Kansas City and across Missouri, the legalization of recreational marijuana use was viewed as a positive in many ways. Despite that, there are still concerns about the legalization in terms of driving under the influence. Drivers who have used marijuana will face charges for DUI. When there is a stop and investigation, it is just as important to understand the procedures for DUI for marijuana as it is for alcohol.
Tests for DUI marijuana differ from those for alcohol
Recreational marijuana was legalized in Missouri in November of 2022. With that comes the potential for drivers to be accused of DUI after using it. As with any DUI case, the law enforcement officer will look for clear signs of impairment. Prior to the stop, that includes speeding or driving too slowly; swerving in and out of lanes; behaving recklessly and ignoring traffic signs, lights and other rules.
When there is a traffic stop, officers will determine if they smell marijuana. Then a field sobriety test might be given. With alcohol, officers give the driver a breath test to determine the blood alcohol concentration. There is no such test for marijuana or other drugs. However, they can conduct certain tests to gauge the driver’s fitness to operate a motor vehicle.
These include the horizontal gaze nystagmus with the officer checking the driver’s eyes for signs of jerking; the walk and turn test and the driver is asked to stand on one leg, balance and respond to questions or count. Failing two of the three is generally cause for the officer to make an arrest.
In some instances, officers have specific training to detect drug use. Known as Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), they are called if the first investigation cannot make a clear assessment. They use expanded tactics such as checking the driver’s blood pressure and their temperature. Officers are not legally allowed to search a driver’s vehicle based solely on the smell of marijuana.
Questioning the testing can be a key part of DUI defense
Since a first-time DUI can lead to being jailed for six months and fined $500, it is important to know how to combat these charges. The testing for a driver who is accused of DUI after marijuana use is not as clear cut as it is for alcohol. With that, there can be avenues to craft an effective defense.
The entire case must be scrutinized from the traffic stop to the testing to the arrest to determine if the driver’s rights were violated. They might not have been using drugs at all. From the start, it is essential to have professional help that understands DUI and knows how to assess the case and form a defense.