Marijuana’s Effect on Drivers and How That Could Lead to a DUI
Although, Marijuana is legal in the state of Nevada, a person can still receive a DUI if they are driving while under the influence of it. An article in Clinical Chemistry, “Cannabis Effects on Driving Skills”, recently did a study in which evidence suggested that smoking marijuana increased swerving between lanes and impaired cognitive function. This can cause accidents and in turn risk the lives of other drivers. Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 484C.110 states that it is unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle if they have a delta 9 THC blood level of two nanograms per milliliter or 11-OH-THC blood level of five nanograms per milliliter.
According to “Detection Times of Drugs of Abuse in Blood, Urine, and Oral Fluid” THC can stay in a person’s blood for one to two days. The time can go up to 25 days for frequent smokers. Therefore, a driver could receive a DUI even if they are not high while driving. A police officer must first have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed or have witnessed a driver committing a traffic violation, such as swerving between lanes. The officer will then pull the driver over and observe them closely. If the driver smells of marijuana or if their pupils are dilated, the officer can arrest the driver and have their blood tested because Nevada law NRS 484C.160 states that a driver has implied consent the moment they get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
See Byars v. State as an example. Here Byars was pulled over for speeding. The Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper smelled marijuana and upon questioning Byars he admitted to having smoked five hours prior. The trooper performed sobriety tests and forced Byars to submit to a blood test. Byars blood test results showed 4.5 nanograms of THC per milliliter found in his blood. Byars argued that the blood test went against his fourth amendment right. The state argued that Byars consented to the blood draw the moment he chose to drive on Nevada roads per NRS 484C.160. It was also ruled to be an extenuating circumstance because waiting for a warrant would have given time for the THC to dissipate from his blood. Byars was convicted of a DUI, which was a misdemeanor and can carry penalties of two days to six months in jail or community service, a fine between $400 and $1000, a three month suspension on their driver’s license, and mandatory DUI school for a first offense.