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What Are The Penalties If Found Guilty Of Driving Under The Influence Of Marijuana?

If you are found guilty of DUI marijuana in Georgia, you will be placed on probation for a period of 12 months. Your license will be suspended for 120 days, you’ll have to complete 40 hours of community service, and you will pay a fine, generally, around $1,000. You will also be required to complete DUI School and undergo a clinical evaluation to determine if additional treatment is necessary. In most cases, you’ll also be allowed, if it’s your first DUI, to obtain a limited permit for the purposes of work and school.

What Field Sobriety Tests Are Given In A Marijuana DUI Investigation? Are These Tests Admissible In Court?

One of the tests is called lack of convergence. The law enforcement officer will take his finger and move it towards the individual’s nose, trying to cause the eyes to cross, which they normally would if they maintained focus on that one point. One of the clues of marijuana impairment is that your eyes will fail to cross. The second test is the modified Rhomberg test. This is used to test your internal clock and is also used to see if you are swaying and having eyelid tremors.

Generally, the individual is instructed to stand with their arms down by their sides; then they are asked to tilt their head back, close their eyes and estimate the passage of 30 seconds. For most people who are impaired by marijuana, their internal clock will be slow; the officer would also be looking to see if the individual is swaying while they are standing there, along with eyelid tremor.

With regard to whether these tests are admissible in court: I have filed a motion in one case to exclude the results of the Rhomberg test. The judge never wrote on it as we reached a resolution of the case prior to trial, but there are ways to challenge these tests. This would include calling into question whether they are truly scientific or not and whether the officers have the ability to administer such tests.

So these tests can be challenged, and they should be challenged to ensure that they meet the legal standards. There is no precedent in Georgia law about the Rhomberg test, so I intend to continue to try to fight it when the opportunity arises. Those are just a couple of the field sobriety tests that are used in marijuana impairment cases.

What Factors Must Be Present In Order For Someone To Be Charged And Convicted Of A Marijuana DUI?

Formerly, under Georgia law, if you had any amount of an illegal substance in your system, you were guilty of driving under the influence. There was a challenge to that in State Vs. Lobe where it was determined that just because you have marijuana in your system alone is not enough for a DUI conviction. You also have to show some type of impairment. So the state would have to show:

  1. there was marijuana in your system, and
  2. the marijuana caused the impairment. Law enforcement will use the standardized field sobriety tests, as well as some others that are more specific to DUI cases, but just having it in your system alone is not enough for a conviction.

For example, someone gets pulled over, and the officer asks them, “Have you been smoking marijuana?” The officer can smell marijuana on the individual’s clothes, and the individual doesn’t deny smoking it. However, if the individual passes all of the field sobriety tests and there hasn’t been an accident, then it may be difficult for the state to prove a marijuana DUI case. If, on the other hand, the tests show that the individual is impaired or there was an accident, then law enforcement may actually prevail on the charge. Those are a few of the things that are required in order to be convicted of a marijuana DUI in Georgia.

How Long Do Ingredients That Cause Intoxication Stay Active In The Person’s System?

It really depends on a number of factors, including how much marijuana the person has consumed. Typically, the effects of marijuana last anywhere from two to three hours, but that isn’t a hard number. If you consumed an excessive amount, it could last longer. For just a small amount, it could be shorter.

How Important Is The Timeline In A Marijuana DUI Case?

The importance is actually linked to the time between ingesting the marijuana and the driving activity. The closer in time that you are driving, after you’ve consumed the marijuana, the likelier possibility of a conviction. For example, if you are driving down the road smoking a joint and get pulled over, it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to show the impairing substances in your blood stream when they go to do blood tests whereas if you did it the night before, it’s not like that. I’ve seen several cases where the individual is pulled over and asked, “Have you smoked marijuana recently?” They say, “I smoked some last night at a party” and get hauled in and arrested for DUI when marijuana is nowhere in their system; however, all the reports track the impairing side effects of marijuana. So the timeline is important.

If you are a user of medical marijuana, which is not yet legal in Georgia, except in very rare circumstances, make sure you give yourself plenty of time, before you get on the road, after consuming a substance.

For more information on Penalties For Marijuana DUI, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (229) 207-0850 today.

Paul W. Hamilton, Esq.

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