Recreational marijuana users throughout the Detroit area rejoiced when Michigan became one of 11 US states that legalized pot for adults back in November 2018. They join the thousands of medical marijuana patients who can now consume cannabis-based products without fear of criminal charges. However, the laws that legalize marijuana for recreational and medical use still incorporate limitations. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs is illegal for public safety reasons, since driving while high puts other motorists at risk. There are harsh criminal and administrative penalties for a marijuana DWI conviction.
Because these drugged driving cases can be more complicated than alcohol-related charges, retaining experienced legal counsel is critical. Our team at Davis Law Group can assist with your defense, and our efforts are especially effective when we get involved as early as possible. Please contact our office at (313) 818-3238 to set up a free, confidential consultation regarding your case. We can explain how a Detroit marijuana DWI defense attorney is your most valuable asset in fighting driving while high charges. In addition, you may find it helpful to review some background information.
Michigan Drug Laws Versus Driving Regulations
Initially, it’s important to note that state drug crimes and driving laws are two separate concepts. Lawmakers may have legalized marijuana for recreational and medical use, but prohibitions on impaired driving remain in full force and effect. An analogy to driving under the influence of alcohol should put the issue into perspective: Though adults 21 years and older can legally consume alcohol, it’s against the law to drink and drive.
You could be charged with a marijuana DWI under two different statutory definitions in Michigan:
- Operating While Visibly Impaired (OWVI): If your words, actions, and demeanor indicate that you’re unable to safety operate a vehicle due to use of pot, police can charge you with drugged driving.
- Operating with Any Presence of a Schedule 1 Drug or Cocaine (OWPD): Regardless of whether you show signs of impairment, you could be arrested for driving while high if there’s any trace of marijuana in your system.
For purposes of OWPD, officials will often rely on the results of chemical testing, such as evaluation of your blood or urine. As you may be aware, Michigan has an implied consent law. There are sanctions for refusing a chemical test. In addition to punishment for a drugged driving conviction, you could also face a one-year driver’s license suspension if you don’t comply with the law.
Penalties for Driving While High
The basic structure of drugged driving laws in Michigan is similar to DUI laws, where an arrest triggers two separate proceedings. On the one hand, there are administrative consequences for your driver’s license; the other case is criminal in nature because OWVI and OWPD are against the law. Potential penalties for a marijuana DWI include:
- First Offense: A maximum of 93 days’ incarceration, a fine up to $500, and a license suspension for six months;
- Second Conviction: Up to 12 months imprisonment, a maximum fine of $1,000, and a 12-month minimum suspension of your driving privileges.
Plus, your sentence could include required hours of community service, accumulation of points on your driving record, substance abuse treatment, and many other consequences. You should note that subsequent convictions increase the penalties considerably, potentially leading to felony charges for a third charge on driving while high. Both drunk AND drugged driving offenses count for purposes of your prior history.
Trust Our Marijuana DWI Lawyers to Learn More About Your Legal Options
If you’ve been arrested for driving while high in Michigan, time is of the essence to retain a highly skilled, knowledgeable attorney. At Davis Law Group, we’re prepared to get started right away on defense strategies aimed at obtaining the best possible outcome in your drugged driving case.