Driving under the influence of a drug is a crime in Nevada. This applies even when under the impairment of prescribed medication, over-the-counter medications, and marijuana, even though it’s legal in Nevada.
There’s a lot of confusion related to marijuana DUI arrestS. That’s why it’s crucial to hire a professional attorney to help you understand the basis of your arrest and help you have the charges dismissed or reduced. Schedule an appointment with The Law Offices of Martin Hart for a detailed review of your case and learn how best we can help your situation.
Overview of Nevada Marijuana DUI Laws
Nevada drug driving law makes it a crime to drive under the influence of drugs. Under this statute, driving under the influence of drugs occurs when the drug impairs your ability to drive with the caution of a sober person under similar circumstances.
Specifically, it’s illegal to drive in Nevada with two nanograms per ml or five nanograms per ml. of 11-0H-tetrahydrocannabinol in your blood. This statute also makes it unlawful to drive with more than ten nanograms per ml. or five nanograms per ml. of marijuana metabolite in your urine.
Remember, as long as the driver’s blood contains the minimum amount of marijuana while driving, the law deems this as marijuana DUI even if you are driving with the caution of a sober person.
How Nevada Officers Determine that You’re Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
There is no objective test for marijuana impairment at whatever level. If any, the officer usually presumes that you’re under the influence, forming the basis of further testing. Determining whether you’re driving under the influence proves to be complicated since THC can remain in your blood system for up to thirty days. This makes it difficult to determine whether you were under the influence of marijuana while driving.
However, there are specific pieces of evidence used to determine whether you were impaired. They include:
Erratic driving conducts
Odor of marijuana
Low performance in your field sobriety test (FST)
Existence of drugs in your car
Please note, the existence of drugs in your car is subtle evidence proving that you are driving while under the influence of marijuana. In Nevada, it is legal for adults 21 years and older to possess a maximum of one ounce of marijuana and 1/8 ounce of concentrated cannabis like hashish. Therefore, if you comply with this requirement and do not exhibit any other signs of impairment, the traffic officer will most likely subject you to a blood or urine test to prove your impairment further.
How Traffic Determine Impairment Using Erratic Driving Conducts
Some of the driving conducts that exhibits marijuana impairment while driving include the following:
Failing to stop at a red traffic signal or failure to stop
Weaving in and out of lanes
Driving too slowly
Sleeping in your car at the side of the road and causing an accident
How Drug Recognition Experts Determine if Marijuana Caused Your Alleged Impairment
A traffic officer will first determine whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol through a simple breath test. When the officer ascertains that the driver is not under the influence of alcohol through the breath test, Drug Recognition Experts will be summoned to conduct a quick roadside assessment to rule out any medical pathologies and confirm that the driver is drug impaired.
A complete evaluation includes expanded field sobriety tests used to test attention, coordination, and time-assessment tests. In these tests, drivers have to walk in a line and turn, stand while their eyes are closed for an estimated time, stand on one leg, or touch their finger to their nose.
The way that drivers fail to correlate with the tests can signify different types of drug classes. That’s why drug recognition experts use FTS markers to determine whether a driver is precisely under the influence of marijuana. For instance, some of the physiological markers for cannabis include:
An elevated pulse
Lack of eye convergence
Body tremors while standing up
Even though these markers might somehow prove that you’re under the influence of marijuana, traffic officers require a urine and blood test to be sure of your impairment.
Use of Blood and Urine Test to Determine Marijuana DUI
Every driver in Nevada has an implied consent to take a blood test when they’re pulled over under the influence of marijuana. A driver is subjected to a blood test at the police station, and up to three samples can be taken within five hours after the arrest. Drivers are subjected to urine tests when they’re hemophiliac or cannot have their blood drawn.
The chemical test in Nevada marijuana DUI cases is used to measure the amount of THC in a driver’s blood. The amount of THC in a driver’s blood system or urine depends on the driver’s tolerance to the pot, the concentration of the THC, and how much the driver had ingested, smoked, or consumed.
However, the chemical test does not reveal when you used the drug and doesn’t provide any consensus on how much marijuana is in your system.
Penalties for Marijuana DUI in Nevada
The penalties for marijuana aren’t harsh unless you have subsequent DUI convictions or the incident led to injury or death. The standard sentence for marijuana DUI is identical to the penalties of driving under the influence of alcohol. Here is a breakdown of the consequences of marijuana DUI in Nevada:
Penalties for First-time DUI with Marijuana
A first-time DUI incident is prosecuted as a misdemeanor if there are no severe injuries or death associated with it. The potential punishment includes the following:
Two days to six months of custody in jail or 24-96 hours of community service inclusive of six months suspended jail sentence
Mandatory attendance to a Nevada DUI school
Fines that range between $400 to $1,000
Nevada victim panel
Suspension of your driver’s license for ninety days or forty-five days in a restricted license
Avoiding further arrest when the case is open
Please note, these penalties can double if the alleged marijuana DUI occurred in a work zone.
Penalties for a Second DUI with Marijuana
When you’re prosecuted for a second incident of marijuana DUI within seven years, you will still be convicted with a misdemeanor as long as there are no severe injuries or death associated with the impairment. The potential punishment includes the following:
Ten days to six months of custody in jail or residential confinement
Fines that range between $750 to $1,000
Compliance with a mandatory alcohol or drug dependency evaluation that costs $100
License suspension or revocation for one year
Mandatory attendance to a long drug and alcohol abuse treatment program
Avoiding further arrest when your case is still open
Like charges for a first-time DUI with Marijuana, you can face a double charge if the alleged crime occurred in a work zone.
Penalties for Third DUI with Marijuana
A third-time DUI with marijuana within seven years is charged as a Category B felony as long as there are no severe injuries or death associated. The potential punishment includes:
One to six years of custody in the State prison
Fine that ranges between $2,000 to $5,000
Driver’s license suspension or revocation for three years
Mandatory compliance to alcohol and drug evaluation
Penalties for Marijuana DUI Causing Death or Injury
A marijuana DUI that causes serious injuries or death is also a Category B felony. The potential sentences include:
Two to twenty years of imprisonment
A fine that ranges between $2,000 to $5,000
If the accident was fatal and the driver had three or more prior DUI convictions, the prosecutor might charge you with vehicular homicide. Vehicular homicide is a Category A felony with twenty-five years or life imprisonment with parole after ten years of custody service.
Possibility of Deportation After a Marijuana DUI Conviction in Nevada
Misdemeanor marijuana DUIs aren’t deportable offenses. However, felony DUIs are deportable, although this is a gray area. An alien convicted of carrying an excess of 30 grams of marijuana can be deported.
Sealing Marijuana Cases in Nevada
The state can seal misdemeanor DUI conviction after seven years after a case ends. Felony DUI, however, cannot be closed. If you had sealed your marijuana DUI charges to careless driving or reckless driving, you might seal it one year after the case ends. A marijuana DUI that was dismissed can be sealed right away after the case ends.
The Legal Defense Strategies for Marijuana DUI in Nevada
Most Nevada DUI marijuana cases are dismissed or reduced to lesser charges like reckless driving or simple possession. Following are defenses that your attorney can use to defend you against your marijuana DUI charges.
You were Not Under the Influence of Marijuana
Marijuana symptoms are general and can be attributed to various innocent causes like failure to brush your teeth for long, having not slept for long, and being around people who smoke marijuana for a while. Therefore, your attorney should be able to demonstrate that the traffic officer merely mistook your appearance and behaviors, but they had nothing to do with marijuana use.
Lack of Probable Cause for Your Arrest
Traffic police should not pull a driver unless it’s part of a coordinated DUI checkpoint. However, if you are pulled over at a different place other than a DUI checkpoint, the traffic police officer should have probable cause to arrest you. Surprisingly, most drivers who are high tend to drive more carefully than ordinary intoxicated people do. Therefore, your attorney can present a good argument that the arresting officer lacked sufficient probable cause to pull you in the first place.
Flaws in Administration of the Chemical Test
A suspected motorist’s performance on a field sobriety test is usually presented as evidence of impairment. However, flawedIn addition, drivers testing usually occurs when the tests are not properly administered. For instance, an officer might have performed a horizontal gaze nystagmus test used in testing alcohol intoxication, whereas it’s not reliable in testing drug impairment.
Apart from that, the use of blood or urine tests can have some flaws. For example, the technician used in drawing your blood or urine must be trained and certified. Therefore, if the person involved in this process is not authorized, your attorney can argue that the results of the tests are invalid and shouldn’t be accepted in court as evidence.
You were Not Impaired
Chemical tests in marijuana DUI shows that you have smoked, chewed, or ingested marijuana but don’t indicate how long since you consumed it. As stated earlier, marijuana can last in your blood system for up to thirty days if you’re a chronic user. That’s why most prosecutors use the presence of THC in your system and combine it with the signs of impairment based on your field sobriety test results as evidence of marijuana impairment. However, your attorney can demonstrate that other factors might have accounted for the prosecutor’s erroneous conclusion but were not as a result of marijuana.
You Were Not Driving
A marijuana DUI conviction must prove that you were driving during your arrest. Therefore, if you were asleep in your car while the engine is still running, this doesn’t count as driving. In that case, if there is no evidence proving that you were driving, the court will most likely dismiss your case.
Other legal defense strategies that your attorney could use in your marijuana DUI case are as follows:
The test results produced were false.
The laboratory technician drew your blood without consent or a warrant.
The evidence provided by the Drug Recognition Expert is biased.
The police officer violated your Miranda rights.
Find a Reliable DUI Attorney Near Me
If you are arrested for marijuana DUI, you should immediately seek the help of a professional DUI attorney. Seeking help from a DUI attorney increases the chances of the court reducing or dismissing your case. Our team of experts at The Law Offices of Martin Hart are committed to providing professional legal services to all our clients in Las Vegas, NV, and are ready to help you too. Contact us today at 702-380-4278 and schedule an appointment with us.