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Marijuana and OVI in Youngstown

Any Youngstown OVI lawyer can tell you that marijuana was legalized for medical use a few years ago. That does not mean you can light up a toke for fun, though. Recreational marijuana use is still a crime in Ohio.

Statistics show that marijuana is the illegal drug that is used the most in the United States. According to the FBI, Ohio made more than 17,000 marijuana possession arrests in 2013.

While most people think “alcohol” when they hear the term “OVI,” a person can be charged with it for being under the influence of drugs, as well. Marijuana is just one of the drugs that can lead to a driver being charged with OVI.

I Smoked a Joint on My Way to Work. Can I Be Charged With OVI?

Ohio law states that you can be charged with OVI if you are driving while intoxicated by either a controlled substance (drug) or alcohol. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means you can be charged with OVI if you are pulled over and found to be intoxicated because you smoked a joint.

In the case of intoxication due to alcohol, the most frequent method used by police for testing drivers is breath tests. This manner of testing will not work for marijuana. Instead, the officer will ask the driver to submit to a blood or urine test.

To be considered intoxicated “per se”, your test results must be one of the following:

  • Urine test – a minimum of 10 nanograms of marijuana per millimeter of urine.
  • Blood test – a minimum of 2 nanograms per millimeter. This could be whole blood, blood plasma, or blood serum.

Detection Timing

Remember that the drugs you take are still in your system after you no longer feel high. Drugs have things called metabolites that stay in your body systems for a certain period of time. This period of time is called the drug’s “detection time.” Some drugs have longer detection times than others. Marijuana’s detection time is one of the longer ones. This can cause problems when a driver is tested for marijuana use.

If you smoke one joint, or even just a couple puffs from one, the metabolites from that pot can stay in your system for three days. Using the drug a few times a week stretches that time out to five days. Those who use marijuana every will find it takes two entire weeks for the metabolites to dissipate. It’s not uncommon for chronic marijuana users to have to wait a month for the metabolites to leave their system.

What this means for a driver is that the chemical tests he is asked to submit to could show pot he used last week or even last month. Drug tests are not able to specify when you used the drug and cops can be led to believe you were driving impaired when you hadn’t touched marijuana for days.

Refusing to Submit to Chemical Tests

Given this information, you might be wondering if refusing to take a urine or blood test is the best thing to do. You would be wrong. Refusing to submit to chemical testing will get your license automatically suspended administratively by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. If you are convicted later of OVI, you will likely receive an addition suspension, this one imposed by the court.

If asked to give a blood or urine sample to be tested, do it. It’s far easier for your Youngstown OVI lawyer to prove the falsity of the test results than it is for you to lose your license for no reason.

OVI Penalties and Marijuana

The penalties for driving while impaired by marijuana are the same as those received by a driver who is charged with OVI because of alcohol in the blood. The severity of the penalties depends on your level of intoxication, but all levels come with fines, jail time, court-ordered license suspensions, and a period of time with no eligibility for limited driving privileges.

Youngstown Criminal Law Group has experience defending drivers who have been arrested for marijuana-related OVI, contact us today.

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