Marijuana DUI

Now that recreational marijuana use is legal in Hartford and throughout Connecticut, marijuana DUIs are becoming more frequent in the state. On this page, we review some of the recent changes in marijuana DUI law, what makes marijuana DUIs unique, how this type of DUI may be detected by the police, and more.


With marijuana laws quickly changing and the decriminalization of marijuana impacting Connecticut, the reality of marijuana DUIs in cities like Hartford cannot be overlooked. Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of an intoxicating substance like marijuana is illegal and can result in fines, license suspension, jail, and other serious consequences. Though the effects of impairment from alcohol are usually more obvious and possibly more extreme than those of marijuana use, the laws and consequences of a marijuana DUI are very real.

How Are Marijuana DUIs Distinct?

In Connecticut, driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) is treated very similarly to driving under the influence of alcohol. When the arresting officer suspects a DUI, the officer will generally pull over the suspect for some type of driving violation, then observe and assess the driver’s behavior. The officer will then administer field sobriety tests and continue to observe and assess the driver’s behavior.

One major distinction between a suspected marijuana DUI and a suspected alcohol DUI is that drivers suspected of alcohol DUI can be easily tested with a breathalyzer. If law enforcement requests a breath sample and the results do not match up to the suspect’s actions, namely effects of intoxication, the officer can request a different type of test, which would be either a blood or urine sample. However, blood and urine samples vary greatly in accuracy because the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, is stored inside the fat cells rather than blood, and urine is affected greatly by metabolism.

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New Connecticut Laws

A new law in Connecticut requires that police be trained in a detection procedure called Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) and allows drug recognition expert evaluations to be used as evidence for license suspensions and DUI cases. Similar to the breath test, there will be an implied consent law on submitting to a DRE evaluation, an evaluation by a special officer trained to evaluate how a suspect acts and reacts in field sobriety tests.

The DRE evaluation will include a blood pressure check, pulse rate check, checking body temperature, muscle tone, and pupil size. The handling of stopping and searching a vehicle is also changing in Connecticut. Officers are not able to use the odor of marijuana as probable cause to make a stop and search of a vehicle.

Though there is no nationally developed systematic procedure for assessing whether a person is under the influence of drugs, Connecticut law has developed a systematic procedure. Under this DRE drug evaluation process, the officer will follow a 12-step process. First, do the breath test. Then, interview the arresting officer. Then, conduct a preliminary examination and pulse check. Next, conduct an eye examination, a divided attention psychophysical test, and check vital signs and a second pulse check. Pupils and muscle tone should be examined, and the investigator should check for injection marks and take a third pulse check, get a statement from the suspect, make a determination of impairment, then request a toxicological examination such as blood, fluid, or urine.

Though the marijuana laws are changing in Connecticut, the laws on driving under the influence of marijuana the procedures for detecting this are quickly catching up. If you have been arrested for a Hartford marijuana DUI or you have more questions about DUIs, call Lady DUI to speak with an attorney.

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