Common Questions About Marijuana & DUI
Just like driving under the influence of alcohol, driving while under the influence of a controlled substance is illegal under Michigan law. But what about marijuana? Is that a controlled substance for which you could be arrested and convicted of OWI? What if you have a medical marijuana license in the State of Michigan?
The legalization of marijuana and the proliferation of medical-use marijuana in Michigan has caused confusion about the legality of driving after ingesting, smoking or using marijuana. Put simply, there’s a lot of “grey area” in this field. Generally speaking, if someone is under the influence of THC (the active “intoxicant” of marijuana) while operating a motor vehicle, they can be charged with a crime. A person only receives the protection of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act (MCL 333.26421) if the license is effective at the time of the arrest, and if they follow the requirements and provisions in the act.
How do the police try to prove that a driver is “under the influence?” First, they administer a series of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFTs) designed to test a person’s ability to simultaneously process and perform physical and mental tasks. Second, they seek consent or a warrant for a driver’s blood, hoping to find proof of a controlled substance---including THC. Third, they often bring to the arrest scene a specialized police officer called a “DRE” (Drug Recognition Expert). DREs typically use more comprehensive testing than in traditional alcohol-related arrests to determine whether a driver is under the influence of a drug. However, just last month (November 10 2022), the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that it was improper for a DRE to offer an “ultimate” opinion as to whether a driver was under the influence of marijuana (People v. Bowden).
Geherin Law Group, PLLC. is a criminal defense firm which specializes in defending OWI cases, including those involving marijuana. Unlike other firms who “dabble” in criminal and drunk driving cases, our firm is a specialized, targeted, trial-based criminal justice firm with a long and proven track record of success in winning OWI cases. Our firm’s founder, Dan Geherin, is a former prosecutor and board-certified criminal trial attorney, and the published author of The Michigan Drunk Driving and Driver’s License Handbook, which has a chapter dedicated to marijuana and drug-related OWI arrests.
Every day Dan and his team receive calls from people who have been arrested for operating under the influence of marijuana, or who are simply curious about the laws pertaining to this subject. We offer a free consultation and case analysis, and offer a transparent fee structure for representation. We even offer a student and military discount for criminal defense and OWI cases. If you need help with your driver’s license reinstatement in Michigan after an OWI related arrest because of marijuana or any other controlled substances, please call for a consultation at (734) 263-2780, or visit us online at GLGMichigan.com
The Geherin Law Group: Offering Personal Attention, Personal Options, and Personal Justice on all OWI charges throughout Southeastern Michigan.