What You Need to Know about Marijuana and DUI in South Carolina

Everyone knows that a high BAC level will result in a DUI charge if you are pulled over by the police. But were you aware that you can get a DUI for marijuana use in South Carolina? An experienced Greenville criminal defense lawyer knows that this happens very often, so read on to understand the facts.

Knowledge is power and will prepare you for facing the situation calmly and protecting your legal rights. Here is how you may be charged with DUI for marijuana in our state.

Driving while Impaired is Illegal in South Carolina

South Carolina law makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle under influence of:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs or a combination of drugs or other substances

While in the case of alcohol there is a legal threshold of 0.08 BAC (blood alcohol content), the situation is different in the case of drugs, including marijuana. If you appear “materially and appreciably impaired,” a law enforcement officer has probable cause to pull you over and submit you to a breath test and field sobriety tests.

Police Officers Have Several Ways of Proving Probable Cause in Marijuana DUI Cases

Now let’s imagine that you’ve been pulled over and you blew 0.00 BAC or below the legal threshold on the Breathalyzer device. Can you just drive away? The answer is no. Police officers have special training to detect potential drug impairment.

They can rely on several aspects to justify probable cause for further testing:

  • Detecting an odor of marijuana on your breath or in the car
  • Finding marijuana in your car in plain sight
  • Finding drug paraphernalia in your car in plain sight
  • You inadvertently admit to using marijuana before getting behind the wheel

What is important to remember is that, once the officer has probable cause to suspect drug use or possession, they also have the right to search your vehicle, even without a warrant.

You Will Be Told to Perform Field Sobriety Tests

Having probable cause to suspect DUI for marijuana use, the officer will tell you to perform field sobriety tests. Here is the catch: even a sober person may fail them, if they are not perfectly fit and healthy. Also, you are not obliged under the implied consent law to perform these tests, only to take the breath test.

If you refuse the test, the officer may still arrest you for driving while impaired. At this point, you must contact an experienced Greenville criminal defense lawyer as soon as you are allowed to make a phone call.

smoking weed and driving is illegal

Urine Tests Will Detect Marijuana in Your System

Once you are under arrest, the police will order a urine test to detect if you were driving under the influence of controlled substances. You can refuse to take the test, but your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for 6 months.

Also, you must be aware that the non-psychoactive compounds in marijuana will remain in your system for up to 30 days. Moreover, there is still not a clear agreement on the connection between the amount of psychoactive compounds and the impairment level.

The Prosecutor Will Push for the Harshest Sentence

The lack of standardization in determining impairment in marijuana DUI cases does not make your situation easier, but more difficult. The prosecution will rely on the fact that there are no clear guidelines to seek the most severe sentence they can.

Your only line of defense is a skilled attorney who knows how to challenge the arguments of the prosecution and find weaknesses in the evidence against you.

Charged with DUI for Marijuana? Contact a Skilled Greenville Criminal Defense Lawyer!

A marijuana DUI sentence will lead to prison time, fines and a criminal conviction which will stay permanently on your record. Thus, you cannot ignore the severity of your situation.

You should reach out to a skilled Greenville criminal defense lawyer at Baldwin Law as soon as possible after being charged. We fight aggressively for our clients’ rights and obtain the best possible outcome in their case.

As a new client, you benefit from a free case evaluation, so call us today: 864-777-4615!

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