Despite the trend toward marijuana decriminalization across many parts of the country, being caught driving while under the influence of marijuana in Atlanta still carries a number of severe penalties. These penalties include fines of over $1,000, jail time ranging anywhere from a day to an entire year, community service, DUI risk reduction programs, and likely mandatory drug and alcohol counseling for up to six months. With these serious penalties in mind, it is important those accused consult an Atlanta marijuana DUI lawyer as soon as possible to begin preparing a defense and mitigating the damage of their charge. An experienced DUI drug attorney will also be able to prepare the accused for what they should expect and help guide them through each step of the legal process.
Georgia has begun to relax its marijuana laws very slightly. In fact, the state legislature recently took away the license suspension for a person convicted of less than an ounce of marijuana. Previously, a conviction for less than ounce of marijuana caused you to lose your license for at least a six-month period. State law now states that as long as a person was not driving when they possessed marijuana, there is no need for a license suspension. This represents a certain liberalization of the law, however, the legislature is focusing more and more on DUI detection for people driving under the influence of marijuana.
A certain degree of decriminalization of marijuana by the state legislature has occurred in the past couple of years. An example is allowing for a limited use of marijuana in medical emergencies or taking away the penalty of license suspension for marijuana possession. However, the slight decriminalization of marijuana in Georgia has actually had the effect of causing more emphasis on detecting drivers who are impaired by marijuana in Atlanta.
Most often the evidence used to attempt to prove a marijuana DUI is the observation of the driver made by the arresting officer. This generally comes from field sobriety tests that will look at an individual’s eyes to see if they are involuntarily twitching, for facial tremors, sweating, or for effects on other parts of the body such as the tongue. In many DUI cases involving marijuana this type of evidence along with what the officer testifies to seeing, hearing, and smelling, will be the main point of evidence.
Of slightly lesser importance is a blood test or a urine test that can look for the metabolites of marijuana. The metabolites of marijuana show that the person at some point in time consumed marijuana, but that could have been as much as a month earlier. For this reason a marijuana DUI lawyer in Atlanta can often challenge blood or urine tests making it less important as evidence.
In a marijuana DUI case, the prosecution must prove that, at the time of driving, the driver was under the influence of marijuana to the extent that they were less safe than he or she would have been otherwise. In contrast, a cocaine DUI only requires the prosecution to prove that the person has cocaine in their system. They do not have to prove actual impairment, but as the law stands currently to prove a marijuana DUI, they must prove actual impairment.
The most important thing for a marijuana DUI case, just like in any other DUI case, is to do a thorough investigation of all the evidence involved. One of the things that is different about a DUI case versus almost any other type of criminal case is that, in a DUI case, the primary witness is almost always a law enforcement officer. From the time that officer first suspects any degree of consumption of marijuana or other drugs or alcohol, the officer thinks about building a case against you. With this in mind, an Atlanta marijuana DUI attorneys defense revolves around a defense side investigation and digging as deep into the evidence as possible to find discrepancies.