Thursday, February 7, 2013

Washington Toxicologist: No spike yet in Marijuana DUI cases

The Washington State Toxicologist spoke at a legislative hearing on Olympia this week.  One of the topics she spoke about was the recently new Marijuana DUI laws here in Washington State and whether there has been an increase in blood samples submitted from law enforcement to analyze for Marijuana.  

Surprisingly she testified that there hasn't been an increase in work.  She estimated every year the Washington State Patrol receives about 6000 blood samples from drivers.  Of those 6000, she estimated about 1100 typically are for Marijuana related alcohol offenses.  DUI cases, vehicular assaults, felony DUIs, vehicular homicide cases, etc.  

She said that since the law took effect on 12/6/12 the lab has finished analyzing all the blood samples submitted from December.  Per a previous blog post, stats show this was about 300 cases and now that they have been analyzed, DUI charges are coming down the pipeline.  

She was quite to point out however that this a relatively new law, that the lab has already started analyzing blood samples from February.  With the legal limit at 5 nanograms of active THC, I also suspect this number will increase.  

It is this Seattle DUI Lawyers opinion this is an extremely low level, and everything I have read suggests it is not on par with the alcohol level of .08.  But the push to legalize marijuana by some was so important that they would have agreed anything, including an extremely low legal level.  Yet despite this law I don't believe Washington State will see a dramatic increase in Marijuana DUIs or Green DUIs as they have been coined.  

Unless an individual smokes an extreme amount, most studies suggest the legal limit currently in law here does not show significant coordination issues, or decrease in fine motor skills.  So really the only way for an individual to get arrested for a Green DUI is when there is an accident.  Or an officer just happens to stop someone and smells the odor of Marijuana.  I don't think we will be seeing too many cases where Officers pull someone over for weaving or crossing lanes of traffic.  Which happen to be the most common reasons an individual gets stopped for a DUI. 

Matthew A. Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle, WA.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other alcohol related offenses.  If you have been charged with a DUI contact our office immediately to set up a free 60 minute consultation.     

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