Extending Your Student Visa

A student visa that lets you study at the university of your choice is a terrific thing for you. But what happens if your studies take longer than you planned? On top of exams and term papers, you may have to worry about your student visa expiring. That’s where an immigration lawyer can be your best friend. Understanding how immigration laws work can be the first step to making sure that you keep your student visa in good standing. My blog is all about immigration issues, especially those faced by foreign students. Check out the articles for more information that you can use to complete your studies in the country you chose to study in.

Can You Be Arrested For Driving While Intoxicated If You Have THC In Your System?

Law Articles

If you live in one of the 23 states that have legalized the medical and/or recreational use of marijuana, you may be wondering what you can do to keep yourself safe from arrest (or even seizure of your vehicle) following a routine traffic stop. Unfortunately, with the conflicts between state laws permitting medical or recreational use of marijuana and federal laws restricting all uses, it can be difficult to determine where you stand -- and when you're legally safe to drive. Read on to learn more about DWI laws as they relate to marijuana usage.

Why is marijuana a particular risk for a DWI arrest?

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a misdemeanor or felony offense requiring a legal judgment that you are too impaired or intoxicated to safely drive. DWI convictions can have serious consequences, including the temporary loss of your driver's license or the seizure and impound of your vehicle. Although most DWI arrests are made for alcohol intoxication, you can also be arrested for DWI if you're under the influence of prescription medication or other controlled substances, including marijuana.

Unlike most other drugs, which are water-soluble, marijuana's primary ingredient (THC) is fat-soluble. While other drugs will be filtered through your kidneys and their byproducts quickly excreted through urine, THC is filtered through your kidneys and then stored in your body's fat tissue. Although this THC eventually works its way out of your system, this process can take a while, particularly if you have more body fat than average. During this post-use period, your blood or urine will test positive for THC, even if you haven't used marijuana for weeks or even months.

This presents a major problem for courts and law enforcement officers, who often use a positive blood or urine test (in conjunction with the arresting officer's testimony) as conclusive proof that a defendant was driving while intoxicated. When a blood test can no longer reliably show that an individual was impaired while driving, this may result in wrongful DWI convictions for those with THC in their systems.

How can you avoid a DWI if you used marijuana a few days or weeks ago?

Fortunately, the states that have legalized marijuana use are cognizant of this issue and are taking measures to create more accurate breath, blood, and urine tests. These tests are designed to show recent use, and can help distinguish between residual THC and "active" THC. It's thought that once these tests become more accurate, states (and perhaps even the federal government) will agree on a certain THC threshold for intoxication -- just as states and the federal government have agreed on this threshold for alcohol use.

However, if your state has not yet moved to these more accurate tests, there are a few things you can do to avoid a potential DWI charge simply due to the presence of THC in your system.

First, you may wish to request a field sobriety test if you feel the officer is planning to give you a breath analysis or other drug screen. If you can reliably pass this test, your odds of conviction (even if you are arrested) are much lower, as you demonstrated that you could perform a series of tasks as well as a non-impaired person.  

Next, you may want to contact an attorney -- even if you're not under arrest. This attorney can advise you on the DUI and DWI laws specific to your state and provide you with information on how to avoid arrest or prosecution, even with a positive THC test. In some states, merely showing that you had a valid prescription and passed the field sobriety test should be sufficient -- in other states, your evidentiary burden may be much higher.

Even if you haven't been pulled over or arrested, you may want to contact a local DWI attorney if you ever use marijuana. They'll be able to explain your state's laws and give you tips on how to avoid any future problems. 


10 April 2015