While it may appear to the untrained eye that a marijuana DUI is very cut and dry, there are many ways that the right attorney will spot the right issue and ultimately lead to success.
With the legalization of marijuana, Washington quickly realized they needed to set legal limits of driving on the road with pot in the system, just as they have for alcohol. With little objective research backing them, Washington legislators agreed that 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood was sufficient for finding someone was under the influence.
However, unlike alcohol studies, the science behind driving under influence of marijuana is very limited, with scientists making conflicting conclusions. And unlike alcohol, where we know that the more you drink, the more your driving abilities are impaired, we regularly see people who are well above the 5 nanogram limit who are not only completely functional but totally unaffected by their consumption of marijuana. One person could have 20 nanograms in their system and function the same as another person at 5! There is no consistency among people; everyone is differently affected by pot.
Even more compelling, many of the standardized field sobriety tests used in alcohol-related DUIs carry little weight when it comes to marijuana-related DUI’s. When we talk to toxicologists, they tell us we may OR MAY NOT see the same clues one would with an alcohol-related DUI. Other researchers have found that several of the field sobriety tests are not useful in marijuana related DUI’s because they definitively cannot tie the clues to any particular amount of pot in the body. In other words: the tried-and-true tests tell us nothing for marijuana cases.
Because the science behind marijuana DUI’s is limited, conflicted, and inconclusive, this allows us tremendous opportunities to attack the prosecutor’s case. We attack the basis for the police who keep using these tests, even though the science does not support their usefulness, and we attack the numbers themselves.
Finally, marijuana DUIs typically involve a drawing a sample of the person’s blood to assess the amount of nanograms of marijuana in the system. This also can be fertile grounds for a variety of players to break protocol—from phlebotomists, to police, to the blood analysts themselves. Any break in protocol, policies and procedures, is a chance that there is a break in the case, and you get a good outcome as a result.