How Testing Drivers for Marijuana is Different from Testing for Alcohol?

In the United States, Marijuana is used by more than 11.8 million young adults making it one of the most commonly used drugs in our country. Although several states across the country are working to legalize marijuana, it remains an illegal controlled substance in Texas.

Texas DWI Charges

According to the Texas DWI law, also known as Texas Penal Code Section 49.04, adults 21 years old or older who operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated can be charged with DWI, a Class B misdemeanor.

The charge of DWI (driving while intoxicated) includes drivers who are impaired by marijuana use. The convicted person may face:

  • First Offense:3 to 180 days in jail along with a fine of $2,000
  • Second Offense:30 days to 1 year in prison with a $4,000 fine
  • Third Offense: 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000

Testing For Alcohol

Police officers can test for alcohol by determining a driver’s blood alcohol concentration via a breath test, urine test or blood test. If the person’s BAC is 0.08 or higher, they’re considered legally intoxicated and are violating the law.

Testing For Marijuana 

Unlike driving under the influence of alcohol, there are no specific drug laws in Texas. Although we know that the legal limit of alcohol you can have while driving is 0.08% BAC, there’s no legal limit for the amount of THC found in a person’s blood or urine sample.

Although some consider the THC levels in a person’s system as equivalent to the BAC, there are several problems with marijuana testing:

  • There isn’t an established breath test to determine THC levels; this means tests have to be administered to blood or urine samples;
  • A positive test doesn’t mean the driver had used marijuana recently. Unlike alcohol, it can stay in a person’s system long after their “high” has worn off.
  • There is no legal or medical consensus on what level of THC indicates that the driver was impaired. Some arguethat the average use of marijuana may not affect a person’s driving ability.

One of the key differences between alcohol intoxication and marijuana intoxication is that alcohol is a legal substance which means you won’t get arrested for simply possessing it unless you have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle when you are pulled over. The open container does give the officer probable cause to test you for intoxication which could lead to more severe fines and punishment. Marijuana, on the other hand, is an illegal substance and could get you fined or arrested simply for having it in your vehicle or on your person even though you may not have ingested it.

Hire an Expert DWI Lawyer

If you’re ticketed or arrested for possession or driving under the influence of marijuana, call Attorney J.L. Carpenter to guard your rights. As an experienced DUI/DWI attorney, she has successfully defended hundreds of people with similar cases in Friendswood, Clear Lake. She will defend your rights and work tirelessly with the goal of getting you a favorable outcome.

Get in touch with her today by scheduling a consultation