Oregon legalized the recreational use of cannabis in 2015, which has users questioning how a cannabis DUI in Oregon is determined and charged. Many of us are used to blood alcohol level being a determining factor in an arrest for a DUI, but cannabis is a different kind of controlled substance. Under Oregon law, a person is guilty of a DUI while 1.) under the influence of intoxicating controlled substances or 2.) under the influence of any combination of intoxicating liquor, an inhalant and a controlled substance (ref. 813.010(1)(b)-(c)).
Accurately accessing impairment from cannabis can be difficult without a test similar to BAC. No breathalyzer exists for THC, the intoxicant in cannabis, levels and even if there were the intoxicant effects people differently. In Oregon, there is no “zero tolerance” rule for driving under the influence, which means there is no presumption of guilt based on the presence of the substance in your system. The citing officer must access the actual impairment of the driver, which is where things get trickier.
Pulled Over for Cannabis DUI in Oregon
Drivers may be suspected of driving under the influence of cannabis while stopped for various traffic violations. A moving violation, a vehicle-related issue such as a broken tail light, or erratic driving may prompt the traffic stop. An officer may suspect the driver of being under the influence of cannabis if they smell or see cannabis or pot paraphernalia in the vehicle or from observing driving behavior.
A citing officer may ask a driver to perform a field sobriety test or seek an assessment from an officer trained as a drug recognition expert (DRE). DRE’s are trained to look for specific signs of drug-related impairment. Their observations may be used as evidence to support a drug-related DUI. Many significant questions arise as to the accuracy of a DRE’s observations, which makes it critical to speak to a skilled DUI lawyer in Central Oregon if you are charged with a cannabis DUI.
Politely decline if an officer asks to search your vehicle, your personal property, such as jackets, purses and pockets. You have the right to remain silent when asked about your cannabis possession or use. You have the right to refuse a field sobriety test. If you are arrested, request the opportunity to speak to or contact a lawyer. These are all within your rights.
If arrested, the driver will be given a urine test to determine the presence and level of THC in their system. Under the implied consent law, if you refuse to be tested, you will automatically have your license suspended, same as with an alcohol DUI. The presence of cannabis metabolites in your urine along with the officer’s reasonable suspicion of recent use is enough to result in criminal charges.
Disputing an Oregon Cannabis DUI
The presence of THC remains in your urine for as many as two weeks after consuming and there is no consensus as to what quantifies impairment. The presence of cannabis in a driver’s urine doesn’t conclusively show they were under the influence at the time of the arrest. This may lead to false arrests for cannabis DUIs in Oregon. An experienced DUI lawyer can assist you in disputing Oregon cannabis DUI charges.
A DUI attorney can challenge the conclusiveness of test-related data, the manner in which the test was conducted and how test results were handled. An attorney can also bring to light the appropriateness of the traffic stop in general and other procedural issues related to the arrest and evidence presented.
Contact a Skilled Central Oregon DUI Lawyer
If you are arrested for driving under the influence of cannabis, reach out to a skilled DUI lawyer in Central Oregon. Nelson Law specializes in DUI and drug charges in Central Oregon. Ricky R. Nelson was selected as a 2020 Super Lawyer and can help guide you through the legal process when you have been charged with a cannabis DUI in Bend, Redmond, Madras, La Pine, Prineville and all throughout Central Oregon.