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How much marijuana can lead to a DUI charge?

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | DUI

Driving under the influence (DUI) charge doesn’t just apply to drunk drivers. Officers can also charge drivers who are under the effect of an intoxicating drug or substance. The types of substances prohibited by law vary, including illicit drugs such as mescaline and peyote as well as toxic vapors from things like glue and paint.

Marijuana, known as cannabis, is also a substance that officers will be looking for when determining whether a driver is operating their vehicle intoxicated. Normally, officers can only charge a driver with DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) level reaches .08% or above. But is there a similar baseline for drivers who have consumed marijuana?

State law on cannabis DUI

The short answer is that there’s no baseline. Because per Georgia law, any amount of marijuana in a driver’s system means the driver is violating the state’s DUI laws.

Officers can detect traces of cannabis use through a blood or urine test, which they might conduct during a roadside traffic stop. And this test doesn’t discriminate whether a driver had used recreational or medicinal cannabis before driving.

A drug DUI for cannabis use carries the same penalties as an alcohol DUI. For a first offense, it’s a misdemeanor conviction with a maximum $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail. A court may also order the convicted driver to complete a DUI alcohol or drug use risk reduction program and a substance abuse treatment program.

Additional penalties

Although some cities like Atlanta, Athens and Macon have decriminalized marijuana, the substance remains illegal for recreational use throughout the state. Additionally, medical cannabis has only been approved for limited use as an oil with less than 5% THC.

This means that in addition to charging a driver with marijuana in their system with DUI, officers can also charge the motorist with possession if they find any traces of recreational cannabis on the driver’s person. Even possessing less than an ounce of marijuana can lead to a misdemeanor conviction, which carries a maximum $1,000 fine and up to a whole year in prison.

No matter how small the amount of cannabis a driver used, if an officer has reason to believe they’re driving while intoxicated and the driver’s blood or urine test are positive for marijuana, they can face a DUI charge. Because drivers face multiple criminal charges for a marijuana DUI, they might want to consider legal counsel for their cases.

From offices in Augusta-Richmond County we serve clients in neighboring communities including Grovetown, Thomson, Waynesboro, Harlem, Lincolnton, and Wrens. Beyond Augusta we handle cases in Columbia County, Burke County, McDuffie County, Lincoln County and Wilkes County. We also proud to represent military families and veterans from Fort Gordon, Hunter Army Airfield, Fort Stewart, Fort Benning, Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem.