The Blog

DUI – Marijuana in Washington

The passing of Initiative 502 is a significant step in promoting civil liberties, getting the government out of our lives and keeping us out of jail. It will definitely save taxpayers money. However, it will take some time to know how this will play out and it brings new challenges for WA DUI lawyers. More arrests may be made upon suspicion that a driver is impaired by marijuana. No one will be able to drive a vehicle with a THC concentration of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Suspects will be taken to a hospital for a blood draw.

Unfortunately, this 5 ng level is in place despite a large amount of research that does NOT support impairment at 5ng. Those who consistently use marijuana could be above the 5ng limit even though they have not smoked hours prior to driving.

For now, the soundest legal advice the lawyers at Valdez Law PLLC can give you is to not drive after smoking or ingesting marijuana. Most importantly, if you are questioned by law enforcement regarding where you got your marijuana or whether you purchased it, THE BEST ANSWER is: “I plead the Fifth and wish to speak to a lawyer.” As always, remain silent in situations where law enforcement is questioning you!

Do you have a court date in King County District Court for a DUI?

If you were recently stopped for DUI on Highway 520 or Interstate 405 (near Seattle’s East side) you will be summoned to appear in King County District Court East Division.  If you were stopped on another portion of Seattle’s highways your charge will probably be filed in West Division or South Division.  Either way, it is wise to consult with an experienced Washington DUI Attorney prior to your first hearing.

At the first hearing (Arraignment) the State will formally notify you that you are being charged with a Gross Misdemeanor.  The maximum punishment is 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine.  The Judge will make certain that you understand your Constitutional rights.  If you have not yet retained a lawyer a Public Defender will temporarily represent you and enter a plea of “Not Guilty.”  Pleading Not Guilty preserves your right to challenge the evidence that the State intends to use against you.  Many other people accused of DUI will also be at this hearing, and therefore you should plan on the process taking at least one hour (sometimes longer).

If you have hired an experienced lawyer before the Arraignment the process will go more smoothly and you will not be at court as long.  Your lawyer will make sure to choose the next court date based on your availability and schedule.

What else should you expect at the Arraignment?  The judge will order “Conditions of Release.”  This often means that you will be ordered to appear for all scheduled court dates; commit no criminal law violations; and not drive with a blood or breath alcohol level of .08 or higher within two hours of driving.  Depending upon your criminal record the following conditions could also be ordered:  to not drive a vehicle without a valid license and insurance; not refuse any breath tests upon a reasonable request of a law enforcement officer; or to not consume alcohol, controlled substances, or non prescribed medications.

If you have questions about what to expect at an upcoming court date call a DUI Defense Attorney who has experience in King County District Courts for a free consultation.