With the legalization of marijuana slowly taking shape across America, authorities are actively attempting to develop comprehensive policies to deal with drug DUI cases that involve THC. THC is the active intoxicant found in marijuana. Unlike alcohol, there isn’t a standardized test that law enforcement uses to determine if the driver is over the “legal limit.” This has significant consequences for driver’s arrested for DUI. Someone who perhaps smoked marijuana the day before driving can be arrested for DUI. If there is an accident, or a fatality, drivers can be charged with homicide or aggravated assault.
An example of this is a recent accident in Chicago involving a government worker who drove a commercial vehicle into a line of stopped cars.
“Prosecutors said Rallings had THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in his blood when he drove a forest preserve dump truck at 76 mph into a line of five vehicles stopped at a red light at Arlington Heights and Cosman roads in Elk Grove Village. The speed limit there is 30 mph.”
As a DUI attorney, I would want to caution a rush to judgment in the above case. Saying that Rallings had THC in his system really means nothing. That is because THC can linger in someone’s blood for DAYs after ingestion.
“The half life of a drug is the amount of time it takes for measured amounts in the bloodstream or urine to decrease by half. The half life for THC is long, because THC is stored in the body’s fat cells (THC is highly lipid and not easily dissolved in water). Therefore, the blood plasma and urinary half-life of THC are best estimated at 3 – 4 days after ingestion. But depending on the quantity of THC ingested and frequency of use, half life may even extend to 10-12 days after ingestion.”
There is an immediate need to develop a standardized method to determine how much THC is in a driver’s system at the time of driving and how that THC affected the driver. Just saying that THC is in someone’s system means nothing at all.
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