DUI for Marijuana, Driving High, and THC Impairment
There is an urban myth of sorts that has been floating around amongst students in high schools, community colleges and universities since at least the late 1990’s. It is the myth that a person cannot get a DUI for driving high.
The truth is that “green DUI’s” are very real. One can be charged with DUI for driving under the influence of marijuana just as one can be charged with DUI for driving drunk.
Under Washington State’s Driving Under the Influence Statute codified as RCW 46.61.502, there are two theories, or prongs, under which an individual may be charged for DUI.
One is known as the “per se prong”, where an individual has an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher within two hours after driving–such an individual is automatically deemed to be impaired. If the breath test is admissible, then the accused may find it difficult to defend themselves against DUI by claiming lack of impairment.
The other prong under which one may be charged for DUI is the “affected by prong.” Under this prong, an individual may be charged with driving under the influence if the person is “under the influence of or affected by” any drug. This is the theory under which prosecution for a green DUI will proceed. However, unlike a prosecution that commences under the “per se prong” of the DUI statute, a prosecution that proceeds under the “affected by prong” requires the prosecution to show that the driver accused of a green DUI was in fact under the influence or affected by THC. This can raise a variety of issues for several reasons.