Does Driving High Count as a DUI?
Tennessee takes driving under the influence (DUI) offenses very seriously, and the law allows for harsh penalties for even a first-time offender. DUI charges do not only apply to alcohol, but also to any intoxicating substances, including certain prescription medications. The fact that you have the right to use a medication is not a defense to a drugged driving charge.
Proving You are Under the Influence of Marijuana
Marijuana use is not legal in Tennessee, even if you have a medical card in another state. Unlike alcohol, there is no “legal limit” for marijuana use, and any trace of cannabis in your system can be used to prove DUI charges. This can be a major problem, as marijuana can stay in your bloodstream long after you use it. This means that drivers who are not impaired can face serious DUI charges and the possibility of a conviction if a blood test returns positive for marijuana.
For example, imagine that you travel to a state with legal marijuana, and you use marijuana fully within the confines of the law. You return back to Tennessee the next day, and an officer pulls you over and arrests you for suspected drugged driving. A blood test might show the marijuana still in your system, even though you did not unlawfully use marijuana in Tennessee or drive while impaired by marijuana. The prosecutor can still rely on this blood test to convict you of DUI without proving that you showed signs of impairment.
Possible Penalties for DUI Involving Drugs
If you are convicted of DUI, you can face serious consequences in Tennessee, as even a first-time charge comes with mandatory jail time of at least 48 hours. The following are the possible penalties for DUI convictions:
- First offense = 48 hours to 11 months and 29 days in jail, one-year license suspension, and fines from $350 to $1,500
- Second offense = 45 days to 11 months and 29 days in jail, two-year license suspension, and fines from $600 to $3,500
- Third offense = 120 days to 11 months and 29 days in jail, six-year license suspension, and fines from $1,100 to $10,000
For any subsequent offenses, you will face felony charges. It is important to prevent even a single DUI conviction whenever you can.
In many cases, if an officer believes you are under the influence of drugs, they will conduct a search of your vehicle. If the officer finds marijuana or another illegal substance, you could face serious drug possession charges and penalties, which will be in addition to your DUI case. In this situation, you need a defense attorney with experience handling both DUI and drug cases.