Approximately half of the states in the USA have legalized marijuana when used for medical purposes, and other states may be doing so in the future. If you are taking medical marijuana for a health condition, your doctor has already advised you not to drive while under the influence. If you have been pulled over for any reason or if you are in an automobile accident, the police officer has the right, most of the time, to ask you to take a drug or alcohol test. Even if you are not currently under the influence of marijuana, your use may trigger a positive test if you've used it within the past several days. What can you do if this happens to you?
Choosing the Type of Test
In many states, you are allowed to choose the type of drug test that you take when you are pulled over or in a traffic accident. Be aware that a breath test (commonly called a "breathalyzer") is used to detect alcohol, not marijuana. If you are asked to take a breath test, you don't need to worry about your breath triggering a positive result, as long as you have not been drinking.
You can get a positive blood test for marijuana for up to seven days if you use the drug regularly, which many on medical marijuana do. Even if you have abstained from the drug for several days, it's possible that the officer will arrest you for driving under the influence due to your blood test results.
Consider not opting for a urine test, if possible. If you are a regular user, the chemical may remain in your urine for 15 days or even longer.
Saliva tests will generally be clear within 12 hours, but this is not likely to be offered or accepted.
It's best not to refuse to take a drug test, because in many states, this will lead to an immediate suspension of your license.
Have Your ID, But Don't Pull It Out Too Hastily
It's important to always carry the medical ID card that you've been given. This explains to law enforcement that you are a patient who is taking cannabis for health-related purposes. Do not offer this card to the officer when being pulled over unless you are actually being arrested for a marijuana-related crime. The reason for this is because demonstrating to the officer that you are likely to test positive for marijuana in your blood might prompt him or her to look more closely into the issue.
Also, you might be charged with crimes inciting higher penalties if you are knowingly under the influence and in a school zone or carrying a weapon, even if you are allowed to do so. It's best to remain silent on this issue unless your attorney advises otherwise.
Defending Yourself Against a DUI Charge
Obviously, the best type of defense of a DUI charge with medical marijuana is prevention. If you are taking medical marijuana, talk to an experienced DUI attorney to find out ways to reduce your risk of being charged.
If you have been charged, however, contact a criminal attorney specializing in DUI immediately, such as Carl L. Britt, Jr. He or she can help you weigh your options for reducing the charge or attempting to have it dropped. Some of the criteria that goes into making this decision can include whether you had symptoms of intoxication, whether you live in a state that has zero tolerance for any trace of marijuana in your system, and whether it's your first or a subsequent offense.
Living your life while you are on medical marijuana will involve some measure of precaution to avoid a DUI charge. Talk to your doctor as well as your attorney about how you can stay safe while you're on this medication.