What is a Marijuana DUI in Asheville?

While most people associate driving under the influence of alcohol, drivers in Asheville can face a DUI or DWI for more than just beer and wine. If you’ve been pulled over after a night out if you’ve smoked weed, you’re susceptible to a marijuana DUI in Asheville.

While marijuana is the most common illegal drug that can land you a DUI, it’s not the only one. Several illegal drugs can cause you driving to be impaired leaving you with a ticket.

In fact, any type of impairing substance can earn you a DUI, whether it be alcohol, street drugs, or prescription drugs. However, there is a big concern when having police officers determine sobriety, as many of the methods used to determine impairment are not universal. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, contact a DUI lawyer in Asheville right away.

How are Police Officers Trained to Detect Impairment?

Asheville police officers are trained in various methods for determining a driver’s ability to operate their motor vehicle safely. While the most common scenario that a police officer will find themselves in will involve alcohol, this makes the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) required training. SFSTs are nominally used to gauge a driver’s impairment due to alcohol.

The next tier in DUI training that an officer can specialize in is called Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE). A large portion of North Carolina State Troopers are trained according to the ARIDE specifications and a few local officers will have undergone this training.

ARIDE training is used to tackle “drugged driving” incidences. The ARIDE course includes sobriety test not found in the SFSTs training. Namely, the officers will learn about the different classes of drugs and how to conduct certain tests such as eye examinations.

The highest tier of impairment recognition training is called Drug Recognition Expert training (DRE). This is an uncommon course for most officers to have been trained in, with roughly 1% of all law enforcement across the nation having the certification.

The DRE course has the officers undergo 240 hours of training in discerning the seven different classes of drugs, how they manifest, and how they interact.

How do Police Officer Test for a Marijuana DUI in Asheville?

Even though the number of officers in Asheville trained in ARIDE and DRE are few and far between, the incidences of marijuana-related DUIs being issued tickets is on the rise.

The methods used by local authorities to detect marijuana impairment are rudimentary at best.

The most common ways that you can be issued with a marijuana DUI in Asheville is by:

  • Possessing marijuana
  • Have marijuana paraphernalia
  • Having your vehicle smell like marijuana
  • Telling the officer that you’ve used marijuana recently

The issue, however, isn’t whether these factors can prove use, but do they prove impairment while driving?

One of the techniques an officer will employ while conducting the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests is the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test. While this can be used to show impairment due to alcohol, it cannot detect impairment due to marijuana use.

Can a Police Officer Use Blood Testing to Determine Marijuana Impairment?

Since 2004, every state had passed a .08 BAC per se law in regards to drunk driving. However, in Asheville and the rest of North Carolina, there isn’t an established per se impairment law for marijuana use.

While you might assume that a test for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component of marijuana that will affect your driving, may be the determining factor, it cannot accurately identify impairment while driving.

More often than not, the test is used to verify use overall, which is enough for most officers and even some judges to issue a marijuana DUI in Asheville.

The problem with a blood test is that it cannot prove impairment at the time the user was operating a vehicle. Many substances, both legal and illegal, can remain in your system for up to and some cases exceeding a month, and the test cannot determine the time of consumption.

This means that a chronic user of marijuana, who has quit the habit over the last 30 days will still show THC in their blood, leaving them to the mercy of the officer at the scene.

A Word of Warning

While most people only associate DUIs with alcohol, if you’re a habitual marijuana user, you can find yourself with a ticket regardless of your condition to drive.

If you find yourself charged with a marijuana DUI in Asheville, your best course of action is to consult an experienced attorney that can bring the facts of your case to light. Contact Asheville DUI Guy today.

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