Las Vegas Criminal Defense
601 South 7th Street
Las Vegas, Nevada 89101
Phone: (702) 474-6266
Fax: (702) 789-1045
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

DUI and Marijuana

Las Vegas DUI Lawyer Explains DUI and Marijuana

One of the most common drug offenses in Nevada involves the possession or consumption of marijuana. It is no surprise that marijuana (often called cannabis, weed or pot) plays a common role in DUI investigations. Contact Joel M. Mann to discuss your DUI case involving any allegation of possession or consumption of marijuana.

After an arrest for Driving Under the Influence, the arresting officer may request a blood test if he believes that marijuana consumption lead to the driver's impairment. Marijuana metabolites remain in the blood stream for much longer than other common drugs.

Marijuana metabolites are the remnants of drugs in your body after your body has gone through the process of breaking the drugs down. Your body is no longer feeling the effects of the drug but there are indications of the remnants of the use of drugs. In fact, for a heavy user of marijuana, THC and other marijuana metabolites can remain in the system for several weeks even after the user stops consuming marijuana.

Nevada has enacted a per se law for those arrested for DUI with marijuana or marijuana metabolites in their system. This law prohibits a driver from operating a motor vehicle with any detectable level of marijuana or a marijuana metabolite present in the blood above a specific threshold level. When using marijuana, certain metabolites stay in the system even though any psychoactive effect has long since passed.

Expert testimony is often used in order to determine whether the presence of a cannabis metabolite impaired the driver’s system at the time of the DUI arrest. In Nevada, once the prosecution has established that there is marijuana or marijuana metabolite in a person’s system above the legal limit that is enough to convict a person of driving while they are under the influence. Whether they were feeling the effects of the drug to a degree that made them incapable of safely driving is irrelevant to the law.


Nevada's Per Se Laws on Marijuana Consumption and DUI

Under Nevada Revised Statute Section 484C.110, it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of a controlled substance, alcohol or both alcohol and a controlled substance, to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle on a highway or on premises to which the public has access. A driver’s BAC for unlawfully driving under the influence of alcohol will meet or exceed .08 grams when tested up to two hours after driving or being in actual possession of the vehicle.

Furthermore, Nevada Revised Statute Section 484C.110(3) provides that if a person who is driving under the influence of a controlled substance, or is in actual physical control of a vehicle on roads accessible to the public, is unlawfully driving if they have at least:

Prohibited Substance Urine Blood
(g) Marijuana 10 ng/ml 2 ng/ml
(h) Marijuana metabolite 15 ng/ml 5 ng/ml

By enacting the per se drug and DUI laws, Nevada intended to create a per se statute similar to the alcohol per se statute. The statute contains a short list of controlled substances, including marijuana, which were deemed to be prohibited substances, and if found in a driver's system, would constitute a per se violation.

The drug level, measured in nanograms, was established by looking at federal standards set by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”). SAMHSA is the agency responsible for setting standards for toxicology testing of airline pilots, train engineers, and others who must be tested for drugs under federal law.


Even Prescribed Medical Marijuana is Prohibited under Nevada's Per Se Drug DUI Statute

Under Nevada law, doctors in Nevada may prescribe marinol to certain patients, which would show up in the blood as marijuana or marijuana metabolites. Unlike the prescribed use of medication, the prescribed use of illicit drugs is not controlled by a doctor. In finding a distinction between prescribed medication and medicinal marijuana, the Courts have noted:

Prescription drugs are approved and reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) for a specific potency, are prescribed at a certain dosage, and are often accompanied by warnings not to drive.

Individuals who use illegal drugs, such as marijuana, do so in order to obtain a desired "high" which might make them more likely to be unable to drive safely.

The Nevada Supreme Court has found these arguments sufficient to differentiate between illegal drugs prescribed for medicinal purposes and legally prescribed drugs. However, if the prosecution is able to show that a person was so impaired to a degree that made them incapable of safely driving then you can still be convicted of DUI.


Marijuana Establishing Probable Cause for DUI Arrest

In Zampanti v. Sheriff, 86 Nev. 651, 473 P.2d 386 (1970), the Nevada Supreme Court held that a police officer's opinion that the defendant possessed marijuana, was enough without any other evidence, to establish probable cause. In that case, the defendant admitted to the officer that the substance in his possession was marijuana.

However, the Nevada Supreme Court held that even if that admission was not considered, the officer's testimony that the defendant's vehicle smelled of marijuana and the substance looked like marijuana was sufficient to support the indictment.

Although expert testimony generally would be required at trial to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance was marijuana, the Court concluded that such testimony was not required at the grand jury level, which occurs prior to trial and determines whether there is sufficient evidence to indict the defendant.


Resources

Nevada DUID - Web page published by NORML explaining Nevada's per se drugged driving law.

Nevada State Health Division, Medical Marijuana Program - Contains Nevada’s rules and information regarding medical marijuana.

Southern Nevada Area Narcotics Anonymous – NA has helpful information about finding help for drug and substance abuse.

21 E California St
Las Vegas, NV 89104-1009
(702) 369-3362

Law Office of Joel M. Mann | Attorney for a DUI Marijuana Cases is Las Vegas

Contact attorney Joel Mann to discuss the most effective ways to fight an accusation of DUI with marijuana consumption. In order to receive the best defense, it is urgent that you contact an experienced marijuana defense attorney immediately.

There are several options to defend a charge of driving under the influence of marijuana or a controlled substance, and attorney Joel Mann has experience representing the accused in these types of cases.