Marijuana laws are quickly changing in the United States and Connecticut, as marijuana is now decriminalized and legal for recreational use in many states, including Connecticut. The impacts of this legalization and changing laws on marijuana DUIs cannot be overlooked. It is important to note first that although marijuana is legal, operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana is not.
New Britain Marijuana DUI Penalties
Marijuana is considered an intoxicating substance, and driving under the influence of it is a crime. A marijuana DUI can result in jail time, fines, license suspension, and other consequences, just like the more well-known driving under the influence of alcohol. Although the effects of alcohol impairment may seem more obvious and more extreme than marijuana, marijuana DUIs can be much less predictable because the ways that it affects a person and how much it takes to affect a person are different.
Connecticut law does not treat driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) much differently. An officer will typically pull someone over for a suspected DUI if the driver is weaving over the road line, driving too fast or too slow, driving without headlights on, or other motor vehicle infractions. Other times, an officer may pull someone over for a motor vehicle violation and then suspect that the driver is under the influence after interacting with the driver. The officer will then request that the driver submit to field sobriety tests so the officer can further assess the driver’s speech and actions.
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A big distinction between marijuana and alcohol DUIs is that drivers suspected of being under the influence of alcohol can easily be tested by a breathalyzer. Breathalyzer tests are used to detect alcohol in the blood. While there can be issues with breathalyzer tests, they are overall a reliable way to test blood alcohol content. However, there is no way to easily test for drugs in the system other than urine and blood tests. And these tests are often ineffective for determining intoxication at a given time since drugs stay in the system for days, sometimes weeks, after ingestion.
Marijuana DUI Detection
New law enforcement procedures have been implemented in Connecticut and give police officers training in the detection of drug impairment, which is called Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE). This training allows drug recognition expert evaluations to be used as evidence for license suspensions and DUI cases. Instead of using a breathalyzer to determine someone’s BAC for an alcohol DUI, the implied consent laws will instead require a driver suspected to be under the influence of drugs to submit to an evaluation. This is completed by a special officer trained to evaluate how a suspect acts and reacts in field sobriety tests.
This DRE evaluation will include a blood pressure check, pulse rate check, body temperature check, muscle tone check, and pupil size check. A recent internal bulletin to Connecticut law enforcement, sent by the Connecticut Police Office Standards and Training, stated that officers will no longer be able to use the detection of odor of marijuana as probable cause to stop and search a vehicle.
The DRE evaluation is a state-developed systematic procedure for drug intoxication assessment. Under the DRE evaluation, the officer will follow a 12-step process. First, the officer will conduct a breath test. Then they will interview the arresting officer. Next, they conduct a preliminary examination and pulse check, as well as an eye examination, a divided attention psychophysical test, and then check vital signs and do a second pulse check. The evaluater will then re-examine the pupils, examine the muscle tone, check for injection marks, and take a third pulse check. They will obtain a statement from the suspect, make a determination of impairment, then request a toxicological examination such as blood, fluid, or urine.
Help With a New Britain Marijuana DUI
Just because marijuana is legal in Connecticut, it does not mean that driving under the influence of it is. If anything, the legalization has and will continue to influence changes in the way that officers are trained for detecting marijuana DUIs. This is something to be very cautious about because a marijuana DUI has all the consequences and implications as a regular DUI, and these consequences are severe. If you have been charged with a marijuana DUI in New Britain, call Lady DUI today for assistance with your case.