Marijuana DWI in Texas
- Marijuana DWI in Texas
- How Much Marijuana Constitutes Texas Drugged Driving?
- Drugged Driving In Texas
- How Does Marijuana Affect Driving Skills?
- Do Officers Know I’m High?
- What Tests Are Used to Determine the Level of Marijuana in the Body?
- Are These Methods Set in Stone?
- Texas Marijuana DWI Penalties
- Houston Marijuana Enforcement
Don’t smoke and drive. That’s a surefire way to get a DWI -a weed DWI!
Yes, you read right. You can get a weed DWI — driving under the influence of marijuana (cannabis).
Although twenty-nine states have decriminalized marijuana for medicinal purposes — some for recreational — just like alcohol or any other drug, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of it.
What constitutes a weed DWI in Texas, and since there is no way to perform a roadside check, how it is possible for law enforcement to know when someone is driving under the influence of marijuana?
These questions remain as do others.
So here are 5 common Weed DUI questions answered.
How Much Marijuana Constitutes Texas Drugged Driving?
Marijuana limits vary by state.
Nine states legally allow cannabis use for both medicinal and recreational purposes with possession limits ranging from 1oz (6 plants) to 10oz (a 60-day supply).
Twenty states allow for the strict use of cannabis for medical reasons only with possession limits ranging from 1oz (4 plants, 12 seedlings) to a 90-day supply (amount determined by the state).
With these limits in place, each state has laws in place that allow law enforcement to identify when an individual is driving under the influence of excessive marijuana.
Drugged Driving In Texas
Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code contains the state’s drugged driving laws. According to those laws, driving while intoxicated is a criminal offense in Texas. Under Texas law, a driver is deemed impaired if they are unable to control their physical or mental faculties normally because of alcohol, a drug, a controlled substance, a harmful drug, or a combined effect of both alcohol and drugs.
According to one DWI Lawyer, there is no set amount of marijuana that will decide whether or not a person is charged with drugged driving in Texas. Rather, a prosecutor will make a decision based on a particular circumstance.
How Does Marijuana Affect Driving Skills?
For years, the argument remained that there was no clear way to determine if driving while highly impaired judgment.
In the state of California, a driving simulator was used to determine if a driver’s judgment was impaired while under the influence of weed.
It was concluded that drivers who smoke weed on a regular basis showed no signs of impairment, while those who tried the substance for the first time could have a lapse in judgment since there’s no determining factor in the way first-timers are affected by marijuana.
However, other tests have revealed that things like the driver’s reaction time, target detection, and anticipation are all affected when a person is under the influence of weed.
Do Officers Know I’m High?
Unlike alcohol DUIs, officers do not have access to breathalyzers to measure the amount of weed in the driver’s system roadside.
Officers rely on more cognitive tests like the smell of weed in a vehicle and require a driver to walk a straight line.
What Tests Are Used to Determine the Level of Marijuana in the Body?
Weed registers in the body as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) — the chemical compound in cannabis that makes a person high.
THC can be detected in the blood, urine, or oral excretions. If a THC test comes back measuring more than the state’s legal amount, a driver will be charged with driving under the influence of weed.
Are These Methods Set in Stone?
Because officers don’t have the same luxury of portable roadside breathalyzers with alcohol DUIs, they have to rely on current methods.
The visual signs of a high driver–red eyes and large pupils–and blood and fluid tests are the current reliable tests for officers to determine if a person is driving under the influence of weed.
Texas Marijuana DWI Penalties
In Texas, the penalties for a marijuana DWI are the same as those for driving while intoxicated due to alcohol. The penalties are increased if you have previously been convicted of DWI charges, regardless of whether you were driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or some other substance. The following are the penalty ranges:
- First offense: 3 to 180 days in jail, a $2,000 fine, and a one-year license suspension
- Second offense: 30 days to 180 days in jail, a $4,000 fine, and a license suspension ranging from 180 days to two years.
- A third or subsequent offense carries a sentence of 2 to 10 years in a Texas state correctional facility, a fine of up to $10,000, and a license suspension of 180 days to 2 years.
Houston Marijuana Enforcement
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced her office’s radical approach to enforcing low-level marijuana possession laws: Cite and release! This new policy has basically de-criminalized marijuana in the 4th largest city in the United States. Basically, what the new enforcement policy means is: If you are stopped by the police and have less than four ounces of marijuana in your possession you will NOT be arrested, you will NOT be detained, and you will NOT even be ticketed. The police will of course seize and destroy your marijuana, and you’ll have to take a four-hour drug class, but there is no jail time for you today. This is fantastic news coming out of an office that as recently as a few years ago aggressively prosecuted low-level marijuana possessors to the full extent of the laws.
Why is this important? Why do we care? Because this takes the focus off of what many people believe to be a non-dangerous, non-threatening, and non-critical crime and focuses scarce time and resources elsewhere. This new policy saves money by accomplishing several things:
- Police officers are no longer wasting time by arresting, transporting, and processing citizens for low-level marijuana possession.
- Courts are no longer wasting time and money by having these cases on their dockets.
- The District Attorney’s office is no longer wasting time, money, and resources prosecuting these cases, and can therefore concentrate on more serious crimes.
- The citizens of Harris County no longer need to fear going to jail, having to go to court, being aggressively prosecuted, and being labeled a criminal for the rest of their lives for possession of a plant.
So, hats off to you, Ms. Ogg. Congratulations on taking Houston into the new year with a progressive, intelligent, well-planned policy change that benefits all involved. Well, except for defense attorneys that used to take marijuana possession cases.