South Carolina law forbids driving under the influence of drugs as well as driving under the influence of alcohol. If you use cannabis, you could find yourself facing a marijuana DUI charge. In some cases, tests may detect THC metabolites even if you haven’t used any marijuana that day.
If you’re charged with a DUI, don’t wait to contact a Charleston DUI lawyer.
How Are Marijuana DUI Cases Different From Alcohol-Based Cases?
In South Carolina, to prove a driver is under the influence of alcohol, the prosecution needs to show a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above .08 or prove the driver was impaired if his/her BAC was 0.05 percent or higher.
There is no legal limit for marijuana DUI cases.
Testing and Evidence
When arrested for driving while high, you won’t blow over any “legal limit.” Instead, the police must gather other evidence like urinalysis or blood tests to build their case. These tests can detect THC metabolites, which prove marijuana use within the last few days or weeks but not necessarily impairment at the time of driving.
According to a Healthline report, metabolites can be detected in urine tests between 1 to 90 days after the last use of cannabis.
Proof of Impairment
The prosecution will aim to show the defendant’s driving was impaired by pointing to evidence like failing sobriety tests, erratic driving, or other signs. The impact of cannabis can vary greatly between individuals based on factors like tolerance, metabolism, and potency of the marijuana.
Field Sobriety Tests for Marijuana
If an officer suspects you of driving under the influence of marijuana, they will likely conduct a series of field sobriety tests to determine if your driving ability is impaired.
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
The officer will check your eye movements by having you follow a stimulus like a pen or a flashlight with your eyes only. They are looking for involuntary jerking of the eyes, known as nystagmus, which can indicate marijuana impairment.
Walk And Turn Test
You will be instructed to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, turn around, keep one foot in place, and walk back heel-to-toe. The officer is evaluating your balance, coordination, and ability to follow instructions.
Signs of impairment include:
- Losing your balance or stepping off the line
- Not walking heel-to-toe as instructed
- Turning incorrectly or stopping walking during the test
One Leg Stand Test
You will be asked to stand on one leg while holding the other foot off the ground. The officer times how long you can hold the position. Signs of impairment include:
- Hopping or putting the raised foot down
- Swaying or using your arms for balance
- Not following instructions properly
Charleston DUI Penalties for Marijuana
If you’re facing DUI charges related to marijuana use in Charleston, you need to understand the potential penalties. The consequences are just as serious as an alcohol DUI, so don’t take this lightly.
For a first offense, you could face up to 30 days in jail. A second offense bumps that up to a year, and a third offense could mean three years behind bars. If this is your fourth or more offense, we’re talking up to five years in prison. And if your impaired driving caused injury or death to another person, you may be facing up to 20 long years in prison.
In addition to jail time, DUI penalties almost always come with heavy fines. For a first offense, expect fines of $400-$1000. Second and third offenses carry fines of $2000-$5000 or more. A felony DUI can result in up to $10,000 in fines.
If convicted of a DUI, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for at least 6 months. For subsequent offenses or a felony DUI, your license can be suspended for 2-5 years or permanently revoked. This makes it extremely difficult to get around and can impact your ability to work.
Fighting Marijuana DUI Charges With an Attorney
If you’ve been arrested for a marijuana DUI charge in Charleston, the most important thing you can do is contact an experienced DUI attorney right away. They can review the details of your case and determine the best defense strategy.
Even if you believe the charges against you are justified, working with a lawyer significantly increases your chances of a plea deal or reduced charges. Call our Charleston DUI Attorney today at (843) 277-8711 for a free case review.