Last updated on November 2, 2021

Michigan Law Enforcement Come up with New Way to Enforce Marijuana DWI Laws

In 2018, Michigan voters passed the “Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act,” (the Act) which provided for the legal recreational use of marijuana. The Act, which will go into effect in 2020, allows adults ages 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use, and to grow up to 12 cannabis plants at home. Of course, driving under the influence of marijuana is still considered a crime under the Operating While Under the Influence (OWI) statute.

As people began to use marijuana more freely, lawmakers believe that there will be an increased risk of people getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Indeed, law enforcement agencies nationwide have cited statistics indicating that the legalization of marijuana increases the rate of marijuana DUI accidents. However, these statistics are flawed because marijuana remains in a person’s system for days or weeks after use, and there is no way to say that marijuana intoxication contributed to an accident just because it was found in a driver’s system. Regardless, the legalization of marijuana in Michigan has placed law enforcement on high alert for motorists driving under the influence of marijuana.

Most roadside tests do not test for marijuana, and taking a driver suspected of marijuana intoxication down to the station for a blood test is a lengthy process that implicates the driver’s constitutional rights. Thus, according to a recent article, Michigan police are considering a new way to quickly test for marijuana intoxication. State police have implemented the Oral Fluid Roadside Analysis Pilot Program in five counties. Authorities claim that the oral test can detect the presence of amphetamines, benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates, and THC, the active psychoactive compound in marijuana.

Of course, the issue with the proposed test is, again, that the presence of marijuana in a driver’s system does not necessarily mean that they were “under the influence.” Unlike alcohol, no threshold amount of marijuana is acceptable. Thus, the presence of even the smallest amount of the drug in a driver’s blood may be the basis for a DWU arrest, even if there is no evidence that the person’s ability to drive was impacted. Those who oppose the new test argue that law enforcement should develop a test that evaluates intoxication, rather than the mere presence of the drug in a person’s system.

It remains to be seen whether Michigan law enforcement will adopt the new roadside tests; however, if the test is adopted, Michigan would be the only state that allows such testing. Thus, the likelihood that the testing procedure would be immediately challenged in court is very high.

Have You Been Arrested for a Michigan DUI?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with a Michigan marijuana DWI, contact the dedicated Michigan criminal defense lawyers at Michigan Defense Law. Attorney Paul J. Tafelski, the firm’s founder, is a preeminent Michigan OWI defense attorney with extensive experience handling a wide range of drunk and drugged driving cases. Attorney Tafelski and his team of criminal defense lawyers have a passion for helping good people out of bad situations. To learn more, call 248-451-2200 to schedule a free consultation today.

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