Find Michigan DUI Lawyer | Marijuana Driving in Michigan

by baronedefensefirm on March 24, 2011

Marijuana driving Michigan

In Michigan it is a crime to drive with any amount of marijuana (or THC) in your system.  This is what is called a “zero-tolerance” crime because the state is relieved of its obligation to prove that the marijuana caused your driving to become impaired.  This is unfortunate, but it does not necessarily mean that if you are charged with OWI in Michigan based on marijuana, that you have no defense, and since the penalties for OWI marijuana are exactly the same as with alcohol, it is important for you to explore every defense option available.

According to an NCDD article written by DUI defense lawyer Manny Daskal: “part of the problem in trying to deal with marijuana for law enforcement purposes is the difference between alcohol and marijuana in absorption and elimination based on solubility.  The alcohol model is the model scientists and politicians have tried to superimpose upon marijuana.  However, unlike alcohol, marijuana is not water soluble which hinders its being processed and eliminated from the body.  Marijuana and its constituent metabolites are much slower in being metabolized and eliminated from the body.  The issues had created a number of attempts by researchers to attach a numerical (per se) value similar to the moving target in alcohol where the numerical value has changed with political pressure.  Marijuana Cleary is a target of the political vagaries of the times.”

Then of course there is the issue of impairment.  Again, according to Mr. Daskal’s article: “contrary to alcohol related studies, several studies over the years (see DOT and UK studies) have concluded that marijuana use makes one a better driver due to compensatory mechanisms.”

So, we see that there are potentially defenses in an OWI – marijuana case/chage and these defenses can be based on the metabolism of marijuana and the lack of impairment.  Now, keep in mind that in order for these defenses to be successful they must relate to an issue of law.  Once the case gets the jury, then the law that will apply is one of zero tolerance.  That is to say, so long as the jury follows the law, and so long as they find all the other elements of OWI (driving for example, and the presence of marijuana in your blood), then they may find you guilty.

On the other hand, there are a multitude of other possible legal defenses that might apply to a Michigan OWI – marijuana.  These include things like “operation” (were you in operation of your vehicle?), were you properly arrested (a legitimate issue when there is likely no evidence of impairment), was the evidence properly collected (all the blood defenses might apply), and many others.

Clearly Michigan OWI based on marijuana is defendable despite the fact that it is a zero tolerance crime.  However, properly defending such a case will require the assistance of a lawyer specializing in these crimes.

Get a FREE confidential CASE EVALUATION on your Michigan OWI/OWVI/DUI by calling (248) 594-4554, or filling out this consultation request form. Call now, there’s no obligation!


This post was written by...

– who has written 203 posts on Michigan DUI and License Restoration Lawyers.

Patrick T. Barone is the author on two books on DUI defense including the well respected two volume treatise Defending Drinking Drivers (James Publishing), and The DUI Book – A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding DUI Litigation in America. He is also the author of a monthly DUI defense column for the Criminal Defense Newsletter, published by Michigan’s State Appellate Defender’s Office. Mr. Barone is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he teaches Drunk Driving Law and Practice. He is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorney’s of Michigan’s Trial Lawyer’s College where he provides trial skills training to Michigan’s criminal defense practitioners. Mr. Barone lectures nationally on various DUI defense topics, and he has appeared in newspapers, on television and on radio as a drunk driving defense expert. Mr. Barone has been certified as an instructor and practitioner of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has also attended a 24-hour certification course at National Patent Analytical Corporation (the manufacturer of the DataMaster) and has thereby been deemed competent by the manufacturer to operate, perform essential diagnostic verifications and calibration checks on the DataMaster. Mr. Barone is a Sustaining Member of College for DUI Defense. Mr. Barone is the principal and founding member of The Barone Defense Firm, whose practice is limited exclusively to defending drinking drivers. The Firm is headquartered in Birmingham, Michigan.

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