Lansing Marijuana DUI & Drugged Driving Lawyer

Michigan law makes it a criminal offense to drive under the influence of a controlled substance, much the same as it’s a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol. Unlike alcohol, there is no legal limit for the amount of drugs you can have in your blood — any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance present in your system can result in a charge of drugged driving. However, having drugs in your system is not the same as being impaired. New Michigan laws have been put in place that indicates the state must prove “actual impairment.”

If you have been charged with drugged driving, you know you face a long and difficult road ahead. You don’t have to go through it alone, however, and you shouldn’t. An experienced marijuana defense attorney will walk you through your case from start to finish, and fight to achieve the best possible resolution to your charges.

Michigan Law

According to Section 257.625 of Michigan’s Vehicle Code, it is illegal to “drive or be in actual physical control of any moving vehicle while intoxicated.” This could mean “under the influence of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance or a combination of alcoholic liquor, a controlled substance, or other intoxicating substance.” Specifically, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs, or other substances.

Common Drugs that Lead to OWI Charges

Even a prescription drug can result in an OWI charge, if it impairs your driving. Common drugs that can lead to an OWI charge when present in your body include:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Methamphetamine
  • LSD
  • Ecstasy
  • Bath salts

A charge of drugged driving is a serious matter in Michigan. You can go to jail even for a first offense, as well as losing your driver’s license and other consequences. If you or a family member has been charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs in Lansing, Ingham County, or Clinton County, an experienced drugged driving defense lawyer can help you fight the charge and work to protect your future.

Legal Limit for Marijuana

Michigan law states that having any amount of a Schedule I drug in your system while driving can lead to a conviction. However, there is an exception for medical marijuana. It is nearly impossible to determine whether a person is actually impaired by marijuana, as someone who uses the substance regularly may not be affected by THC in the same way that someone who rarely uses would. Thus, it is impossible to set a legal limit on THC for medical marijuana users. Instead, the state must prove actual impairment, which is very difficult.

The requirement to prove actual impairment can make it difficult for prosecutors to get a conviction for Impaired Driving, which many DUIs are plead down to.

Penalties for a Drugged Driving Conviction

Drugged driving can be a misdemeanor or a felony in Michigan, depending on the circumstances of your charge and whether you have any prior OWI-related convictions.

We should note that the penalties described here are stated in Michigan statutes. However, a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision allows judges to decide the penalties for a criminal conviction, and the penalties set by a judge may differ from those set in the statutes. An experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer can discuss what this might mean for your case.

First Offense

Your first conviction for OWI involving marijuana or a controlled substance is a misdemeanor offense that may be punished with the following:

  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 360 hours of community service
  • Driver’s license suspension for 30 days, and a restricted license for 150 days
  • Six driver’s license points
  • $1,000 in driver responsibility fees per year for 2 years

Second Offense

If you’re convicted of drugged driving and have a prior conviction for any OWI offense within the last 7 years, your drugged driving conviction is a misdemeanor that may be punished with the following:

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • At least 30 days and up to 90 days of community service
  • Driver’s license revocation for at least 1 year
  • Six driver’s license points
  • $1,000 in driver responsibility fees per year for 2 years

Third or Subsequent Offense

If you’re convicted of drugged driving and have two or more prior convictions for any OWI offense, your drugged driving conviction is a felony that may be punished with the following:

  • 1 to 5 years in prison, or probation and 30 days to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $5,000 in fines
  • Up to 180 days of community service
  • Driver’s license revocation
  • Six driver’s license points
  • $1,000 in driver responsibility fees per year for 2 years

Other Consequences of a Drugged Driving Conviction

In addition to statutory penalties such as incarceration, fines, and suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, a conviction for a marijuana OWI or drugged driving may affect your life in the following ways:

  • Increased Insurance Rates — When you have a conviction for a criminal driving offense such as drugged driving, your car insurance company is likely to see you as a greater risk to insure, and you’re likely to have to pay more to insure your vehicle.
  • Permanent Criminal Record — Drugged driving is a criminal offense and a conviction will result in a permanent criminal record that will be visible to potential employers or landlords and may result in denial of employment or housing.
  • Civil Liability — If you were involved in a car crash while you allegedly were driving under the influence of drugs, a conviction for drugged driving may be used as evidence of your negligence if you get sued in a civil court, and may increase the likelihood that you’re held liable for injuries or damages from the accident.
  • Immigration Status — A drugged driving conviction, particularly if it’s a felony, may have an impact on your immigration status if you’re a non-U.S. citizen. You could lose or be denied an immigration visa or green card, be denied citizenship, or be deported.

Drunk driving defense in East Lansing and throughout Michigan requires a skilled attorney who will help you avoid the worst consequences.

Drugged Driving Defense in Michigan

A marijuana OWI or drugged driving charge doesn’t have to ruin your life. With the help of a skilled Michigan OWI defense lawyer, you may have a chance at fighting the charge and securing a dismissal, an acquittal, or a reduction in your charge or penalties.

To convict you of a drugged driving charge, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you operated a motor vehicle while you had drugs in your system. Typically, this kind of case is based on blood test results that indicated you had drugs in your body. However, an experienced Lansing drugged driving defense lawyer may find several ways to challenge that evidence. For example, if your blood sample was contaminated in the lab, or results were misread, or your sample was taken pursuant to an invalid search warrant, you may have some leverage to fight your charge.

The best way to determine your options in your case is to talk to an experienced Michigan drugged driving attorney at (517) 324-4303 who can review the facts and evidence and advise you how to proceed.