A Guide to Understanding Weed DUIs and Testing Protocols: How Do Cops Test for Weed DUI
Driving under the influence of marijuana is rising in the state of Nevada. With marijuana lounges being given the green light by Clark County and Las Vegas, marijuana use is becoming more commonplace in the state.
While it may be a win for cannabis advocates, the rise in marijuana use is causing confusion among many drivers who don’t know how to respond to law enforcement if pulled over for a suspected weed DUI. This also presents additional risks to the public as more people are driving under the influence of marijuana.
At the same time, law enforcement is undergoing training on handling those driving under the influence of weed. Unlike DUI with alcohol, marijuana DUI requires different testing protocols and evidence. To better understand these issues, we will go over all the basics surrounding weed DUIs and how law enforcement typically proceeds when testing for marijuana intoxication in Nevada.
Weed DUI Overview
Nevada DUI laws can be categorized into two: per se and impairment. Per se laws punish drivers for having a certain amount of a controlled substance — in this case, marijuana — present in their system. Impairment laws punish people based on how the drug affected their driving ability.
Weed DUI stands for driving under the influence of marijuana, which occurs when a driver has consumed enough cannabis products to impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle. This impairment can come in many forms and be caused by different levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the intoxicating chemical found in marijuana.
The per se limit for weed DUI in Nevada is shown in this table:
Prohibited Substance | Blood Nanograms per Milliliter
Marijuana (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) | 2
Marijuana metabolite (11-OH-tetrahydrocannabinol) | 5
If you exceed this limit, you are guilty of DUI.
However, the latest addition to Nevada’s DUI laws is AB400 which we discussed here in more detail, which makes this more complicated. As an overview, the THC present in your blood cannot be used as evidence for conviction in non-injury or death-related DUI. This means law enforcement must use other forms of evidence to determine impaired driving.
As for the impairment law, prosecutors use other forms of evidence such as driving patterns, field sobriety tests, and other factors to show that marijuana use has impaired your ability to operate a motor vehicle.
For example, CCTV footage shows erratic driving like swerving left and right, running stop signs, and failing to maintain minimum speed limits—these can be used as evidence to prove impairment.
Other evidence gathered during the arrest can also be used to prosecute you. For instance, the body cam footage from the arresting officer depicted you responding incoherently (slurred speech) when asked straightforward inquiries.
Consequences of Weed DUI
The consequences for driving under the influence of marijuana vary by state but are typically similar to driving under the influence of alcohol. In Nevada, DWI (driving while impaired) carries the same punishments as alcohol-related DUI. Depending on the specifics of your case, you can receive the following penalties:
Weed DUI Test
Cops test for weed DUIs using a variety of methods, but the most common is measuring the amount of THC present in your body at the time of the stop. This can be done through blood tests or urine analysis, and the results are used to determine if you’re under the influence of marijuana or not.
For blood tests, a sample of your blood is taken at the time of arrest and analyzed for THC levels. If your THC level exceeds Nevada’s legal limit (2 – 5 ng/ml depending on what is being tested), then you can be charged with a DUI.
Again, AB400 affects how this evidence is used. That’s why police officers are undergoing training on how to determine intoxication and impairment due to marijuana consumption.
Note, however, that even if you are within the legal limit or have little to no THC present in your system, police may still charge you with a DUI if they suspect that marijuana has impaired your ability to drive safely.
Weed DUI Arrest Process
When a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana, they may ask you to submit to various tests with the breathalyzer test as the most common.
Unfortunately, these tests are not reliable for detecting marijuana in your system since breathalyzers measure alcohol in your breath, not other substances like THC.
From this, the arresting officer looks for other cues like the smell of marijuana from you and/or your car, red eyes, or difficulty in answering questions. They’ll also administer other tests such as testing your coordination and balance, evaluating your eyesight, and more.
If all factors point to the conclusion that you are under the influence of marijuana, then the arrest process will begin.
In most cases, you’ll be taken to jail to get your blood or urine samples. Depending on the outcome of these tests (alongside other evidence collected against you), you may get charged with a DUI or DWI.
If convicted, then you’ll have to face the legal consequences associated with it.
That’s why getting legal help is highly recommended for anyone facing marijuana-related DUI charges. A good DUI lawyer can help protect your rights and give you the best advice about how to proceed with your case.
By having legal representation, you can maximize your chances of getting the best outcome possible in this situation.
Common Defenses Against Marijuana DUI Charges
- Lack of Probable Cause: This is when a law enforcement officer does not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull over a driver suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana.
- The driver was not impaired: This is when the driver was not impaired at the time of arrest, even if THC levels were present in their system.
- Inaccurate Measurement: This defense applies to weed DUIs where a blood test or urine analysis was used as evidence against you. If your results show that your THC levels were below the legal limit for intoxication, then you may be able to get your charges dropped.
Arrested for Driving High?
If you or know someone who has been arrested for a marijuana DUI, then you need to get legal help as soon as possible. A qualified DUI lawyer can advise you on the best approach for your situation and make sure that your rights are fully protected.
The Defenders is here to provide you with the best legal help possible in Nevada. We have a team of experienced DUI lawyers who are well-versed in the laws surrounding marijuana DUIs and can help get you the best outcome for your case.
Contact us today and let us help you fight your marijuana DUI charges!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the legal limit for THC in Nevada?
The legal limit for THC in Nevada depends on what type of sample is being tested. The per se limit is 2-5 ng/ml depending on what’s being tested.
Can you get a DUI for weed in Nevada?
Yes, you can get a DUI for weed in Nevada if law enforcement officers suspect that your ability to drive has been impaired by marijuana and/or you exceed the legal limit for THC in your blood.
Will I go to jail if convicted of a marijuana DUI?
It is possible. In Nevada, the penalties for a marijuana DUI conviction are similar to an alcohol-related DUI. Punishments can vary from fines and community service to probation and jail time. The severity of the punishment depends on factors such as your criminal history, whether there were any aggravating circumstances (such as having children in the vehicle at the time of arrest), and other related factors.
Is it illegal to smoke and drive in Nevada?
Yes, it is illegal to smoke and drive in Nevada. It is considered a DUI offense if you are found driving with THC in your system above the legal limit. It’s important to remember that even if you have marijuana in your system is below this limit, you can still be arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Why breathalyzers aren’t used for weed DUI arrests?
Breathalyzers are used to measure alcohol levels in the body and not THC. Consequently, they cannot be used as an accurate test for a marijuana DUI. Law enforcement officials will instead rely on other tests such as blood or urine analysis to determine if a driver is impaired by marijuana.
Can I refuse the blood or urine test?
In Nevada, you can refuse the blood or urine test, at least initially. The arresting officer can request a warrant to take your sample, however. You should note that refusing a test comes with its own set of consequences, as it could be used against you in court and result in harsher penalties. It’s best to speak to a lawyer before deciding on whether or not you should comply with the officer’s requests.
What should I do if I am facing a marijuana DUI charge?
If you are facing a marijuana DUI charge, you should get in touch with an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. A good lawyer can help you understand your options and build a defense that is tailored to the specifics of your case. They may also be able to negotiate for reduced charges or penalties on your behalf.