We’re here to break down the laws again; this time for all of our cannabis consumers in Washington and New Mexico

The Law (WA & NM)
As you may have read in our last article, each state has their own guidelines and laws regarding cannabis DUI’s. This is CRUCIAL information in knowing how to consume cannabis safely and legally, (nothing kills a buzz more than a bunch of fines, or even worse, jail time!).

For WA, the law states; “The fact that a person has been entitled to use a drug under the laws of the state shall not constitute a defense against the charge of driving under the influence. Analyses of blood samples obtained more than two hours after the alleged driving may be used as evidence that within two hours of the alleged driving, a person had a THC concentration of 5.00 or more and shall be considered to be guilty of a DUI. In any case in which the analysis shows a THC concentration above 0.00, it may be used as evidence that a person was under the influence of or affected by marijuana. It is an affirmative defense if a defendant can provide evidence that they consumed a sufficient quantity of marijuana after the time of driving but before the administration of a blood analysis to cause the THC concentration in their blood to be 5.00 or more within two hours of driving.”  

Now for NM: New Mexico law states; “It is unlawful for any person to drive a vehicle while under the influence of any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely driving a vehicle. Any person driving in New Mexico has implied consent to submit to a chemical test, and a refusal to submit to a chemical test is admissible in a court of law. Refusal by a motorist to take a breath alcohol test may be used to show consciousness of guilt.”

The Limit
California has yet to establish a ‘legal limit’ for driving under the influence of cannabis; are Washington and New Mexico taking things to the limit?

WA: Yup! Unlike CA, WA has already established a legal limit for driving under the influence of cannabis. As it currently stands in WA, it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana if you have more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. Doing so may result in significant legal penalties.

NM: There are still no established THC limits in New Mexico for DUI. There is ongoing debate about where the THC levels should be set and it’s hard to provide much legal guidance at this point other than to say that medical marijuana patients are not shielded from DUI prosecution.

photo from Vice

The Tests:
If you take the risk, you take the test (no matter how crazy or controversial they may seem).

WA: According to the article “Washington Drugged Driving”, any person who operates a motor vehicle within Washington is deemed to have given consent to a test or tests of his or her breath or blood for the purpose of determining the alcohol concentration or presence of any drug in his or her breath or blood. Neither consent nor this section precludes a police officer from obtaining a search warrant for a person's breath or blood.

Type of test: Blood test. (If you refuse to take the test, the driver's license, permit, or privilege to drive will be revoked or denied for at least one year; Id. § 46.20.308(2)(a).

NM: “Any person who operates a motor vehicle in New Mexico shall be deemed to have given consent to chemical tests of his breath or blood or both for the purpose of determining the drug or alcohol content of his blood if arrested for any offense arising out of the acts alleged to have been committed while the person was driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or drug.”, (Id. § 66-8-107(A).

Type of test: Breath, blood, and/or urine.

By now you probably know, or are becoming familiar with the fact that everyone’s endocannabinoid system is unique, which is why cannabis affects us all differently. This is just one of the reasons many people are conflicted about a universal limit for THC, which in the states that already have one, seem to be set on the lower side. However, the biggest concern seems to be how; how do you know if someone is too high to drive?

Read and watch this story from Vice about a medicinal cannabis patient in Washington who recently received a DUI for driving high, even though he claims, (just like many of us do), that he is completely functional while under the influence of cannabis.



The Punishment 
Driving under the influence can land you in the following trouble (or worse), so don’t do it!

WA:

  • 1st offense: One day up to 364 days in jail, 24 hours of which may not be suspended unless the offender’s physical or mental well-being is at risk, $350 up to $5,000 fine, driver’s license revocation for 90 days, court may order 15 days of electronic home monitoring or a 90-day period of 24/7 sobriety program monitoring, may be required to have IID installed on vehicle.
  • 2nd offense (within seven years): 30 days up to 364 days in jail, 60 days of electronic home monitoring or an additional four days in jail or six months in a 24/7 sobriety program, $500 up to $5,000 fine, license revocation for two years, vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture, may be required to install an IID on vehicle.
  • 3rd or 4th offense (within seven years): 90 days up to 364 days in jail, six months in a 24/7 sobriety program, 120 days of electronic home monitoring, $1,00 up to $5,000 fine, license revocation for three years, vehicle is subject to seizure and forfeiture, offender may be required to install IID on vehicle.
For more information, please refer to Rev. Code Wash. 46.61.5055.


NM:

  • 1st offense: Between 48 hours and up to 90 days in jail, $500 fine, driver’s license suspension for six months up to one year, IID required for one year, 24 hours of community service, probation for up to one year, alcohol screening ($100-$200), possible forfeiture of vehicle.
  • 2nd offense: Mandatory 96 hours to 364 days in jail, $500 to $1,000 fine, driver’s license revocation for one year up to two years, IID required for two years, 48 hours of community service, probation for up to five  years, vehicle must be forfeited.
  • 3rd offense: Mandatory minimum of 30 days up to 364 days in jail, $750 up to $1,000 fine, driver’s license revocation for one year up to three years, IID required for three years, 96 hours of community service, vehicle must be forfeited.
  • 4th offense: Mandatory minimum of six months up to 18 months in jail, $5,000 fine, driver’s license revocation for one year, IID required for the remainder of the offender’s life, must forfeit vehicle.
  • 5th offense: Mandatory minimum of one year up to two years in jail, $5,000 fine, driver’s license revocation for one year, IID required for the remainder of the offender’s life, must forfeit vehicle.
  • 6th offense: Mandatory minimum of 18 months up to 30 months in jail, $5,000 fine, driver’s license revocation for one year, IID required for remainder of offender’s life, must forfeit vehicle.
  • 7th offense: Mandatory minimum of two years up to three years in jail, $5,000 fine, driver’s license revocation for one year, IID required for the remainder of the offender’s life, must forfeit vehicle.
For more information, please refer to New Mexico Stat. Ann. 66-8-192.


The Point
Sadly, cannabis is still illegal on a federal level. This means there are still tons of laws and regulations we all need to abide by, even if it’s legal in the state we live in. Knowing the laws are half the problem; now you just have to follow them! It should be easy… Don’t drive high!