Michigan has joined the growing ranks of states that have legalized marijuana. While recreational cannabis use isn’t against the law any longer, driving while intoxicated is. Some Michigan drivers who have heard the news that weed is legal in Michigan don’t realize that its use behind the wheel is strictly prohibited.
At Christensen Law, we want drivers to have all the facts about the legality of marijuana use. We also want to help protect the rights of victims who are involved in collisions with intoxicated drivers.
If you have been involved in a crash with someone high on marijuana, talk to a skilled Michigan accident attorney today. At Christensen Law, we put you first and will aggressively fight to recover the compensation you deserve. For more information on how we may be able to help, contact our office today. The initial consultation is free and confidential.
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What Are the Marijuana and Driving Laws in Michigan?
Marijuana may be legal under certain circumstances, but driving under the influence of marijuana is not. Michigan law prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. Penalties for driving while under the influence of marijuana include suspension of an individual’s driver’s license, a fine up to $500, and up to 93 days in jail for first-time offenders.
Michigan’s Zero Tolerance Law
Some states treat marijuana like alcohol. For example, in Colorado, a driver has hit the legal limit if they are found to have five nanograms per milliliter of marijuana in their system when their blood is eventually tested. However, Michigan has a zero-tolerance law.
Zero tolerance means that it is illegal to drive while any amount of marijuana is present in an individual’s system. Individuals using marijuana for medical purposes may be exempt from that specific zero-tolerance rule.
Is It Illegal to Smoke Marijuana and Drive in Michigan?
The simple answer is yes. It is illegal to smoke marijuana and drive a vehicle in Michigan. Drivers are prohibited from consuming any form of marijuana while they are behind the wheel. Likewise, passengers are also prohibited from using cannabis while in a vehicle on a public road.
Side Effects of Marijuana that Impact Your Ability to Drive
Marijuana can impact people differently. It can also take different amounts of time to impact people, depending on the method of consumption. For example, eating a marijuana-laced edible may produce a result in 30 to 60 minutes. Vaping a marijuana cartridge may produce a “high” in only a few minutes. Generally, marijuana use can result in the following side effects that can negatively impact your ability to drive safely:
- Slowed reaction time
- Decreased coordination
- Memory loss
- Lowered inhibitions
Common Medical Uses and Side Effects of CBD
Cannabidiol is one of the active ingredients in cannabis. It is also commonly referred to as CBD. CBD does not produce a “high” like the other active ingredient in cannabis, THC. CBD can be produced from hemp plants, a cousin of marijuana plants. CBD is also legal in some areas where marijuana is still prohibited.
Studies indicate that CBD oil may have certain health benefits, such as treating childhood seizures. It may also help patients struggling with:
- Chronic pain due to cancer, arthritis, or chronic inflammation
CBD may be used to treat health conditions, but just like any medication or herbal supplement, it can cause side effects. These side effects may include:
- Low blood pressure
- Interactions with other medications
How Do Police Determine If You are Operating While Intoxicated?
Michigan law prohibits drivers from operating motor vehicles while under the influence of cannabis. Yet, what does under the influence of marijuana equate to? When an officer suspects a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a test can be conducted which indicates a driver’s blood alcohol concentration. A BAC of .08 or higher is grounds for a DUI “per se.” This means that even if an officer cannot point to any evidence that you are impaired, you can still be convicted of the offense because you are over the legal limit and are presumed to be intoxicated. DUI per se is straightforward in that you are either over the limit or you aren’t.
Detecting marijuana impairment doesn’t always work the same way as alcohol. There is currently no breathalyzer test that can indicate the percentage of THC in a person’s system at the time they are pulled over. Any amount of marijuana in a person’s system while driving is considered a hazard in Michigan.
Therefore, most law enforcement officers look for impairment, sometimes referred to as an impairment DUI. An officer can test for impairment by conducting a field sobriety test, noticing signs of slurred speech or unusual behavior, observing how the driver was operating their vehicle, or seeing or smelling marijuana in the car.
Proving Liability for an Accident Involving Marijuana
To prove liability for an accident involving a driver under the influence of marijuana, you should contact an experienced Michigan attorney. A police report can be helpful, but an attorney may be able to help determine what form of marijuana was used before the crash and push for a test indicating whether there is THC in the at-fault driver’s blood. An attorney can also help you handle the logistics of filing an insurance claim and negotiating with your insurer for maximum compensation.
Contact Our Michigan Car Accident Attorneys
Michigan may have legalized marijuana, but it did not legalize risky and negligent behavior behind the wheel. When a driver makes the dangerous choice to drive while under the influence of drugs, they should be held responsible for their actions.
If you suspect your accident was due to a drug-impaired driver, contact an experienced Michigan car accident attorney as soon as possible. At Christensen Law, we’re proud of all the work we’ve done to help injured clients receive the fair settlements and verdicts they deserve after they were harmed by someone else’s negligence. To learn how we may be able to help you, contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation.