As more states legalize personal use of marijuana, they are now trying to define just how much marijuana in a person’s blood would be considered as an impaired driver. States such as Colorado and Washington are trying to agree on an amount of Delta 9 THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) that would cause someone to be impaired to drive, and would therefore constitute a “per se” DUI. The amount that they came up with is five or more nanograms of Delta 9 THC per milliliter, yet there are disagreements on whether even that amount is too low or too high. “Even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) acknowledges that detecting impairment caused by use of marijuana can be trickier than it is for alcohol.” (NY Times, June 9, 2013) “Earlier this year, in a widely viewed broadcast, a Seattle TV station, KIRO, had three volunteers smoke marijuana before driving. They started out well enough, and each were capable of driving safely even after they far exceeded the state’s 5 nanogram limit.” (NY Times, June 9, 2013) In states that have not legalized recreational use, such as Georgia, the legal definition of someone under the influence of marijuana is someone who is rendered “incapable of driving safely.” There is currently no “per se” marijuana in Georgia. There is a DUI “per se” level which is .08 grams but in Georgia the State must prove that you are “rendered incapable of driving safely due to marijuana.” The State generally must show less safe driving, failure to perform balance tests, or physical manifestations of being “stoned.” Most officers lack the training to accurately articulate someone who may be impaired due to marijuana; therefore, it is important that you do NOT voluntarily give the State any evidence which would incriminate you. The Simple Rules apply if you are stopped in Georgia and are suspected of being under the influence of marijuana:
- Don’t admit to smoking.
- Don’t do any field tests.
- Don’t agree to a blood or urine test.
- Make the State prove that you are under the influence to the extent you were “rendered incapable of driving safely.”