Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Washington
Driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime in Washington. This article explains the penalties imposed for DUI violations, but other laws regarding marijuana possession may also apply to drivers and passengers. Also, while Washington allows medical marijuana use under limited circumstances, it is still a crime to drive after such use. (Wa. Rev. Code Ann. § 46.61.502(2).)
For information about how Washington treats marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture, see Washington Marijuana Laws.
To learn about Washington's medical marijuana laws, see Washington Medical Marijuana Laws.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
It is illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, alcohol, other drugs, or a combination of substances. When alcohol is involved, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent of the driver's blood, by volume, will conclusively establish that the driver is under the influence (if the level is less, the prosecutor can still point to the driver's actions to prove that he was under the influence).(Wa. Rev. Code Ann. § 46.61.502.)
When marijuana is involved, a blood THC level of 5 nanograms will establish that the driver was under the influence.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence
Penalties vary according to whether the offense is a first of subsequent conviction. The judge may also order the defendant to use an ignition interlock device after the applicable period of license suspension is over. A defendant with a second or subsequent conviction may also face vehicle forfeiture.
- First conviction. Penalties include a fine of between $350 and $5,000, at least 24 hours (and up to one year) in jail, or both; and 90 days of driver’s license suspension.
- Second conviction within seven years. Penalties include a fine of between $500 and $5,000, between 30 days and one year in jail, or both; and two years of driver’s license suspension.
- Third and subsequent convictions within seven years. Penalties include a fine of between $1,000 and $5,000, between 30 days and one year in jail, or both; 120 days or more of house arrest, and three years of driver’s license suspension.
An Important Note on Local Legal Representation
If you have been charged with a marijuana-related driving offense, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. While the penalties and consequences of a marijuana charge are governed by statutory law, only a local criminal defense attorney can tell you how cases like yours tend to be handled by prosecutors and judges in your courthouse.