“A driver’s judgment and ability to react are both impaired when driving high, but many drivers don’t realize that it’s dangerous and illegal,” said a spokesperson for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “Driving either drunk or high is a DUI; impairment is impairment.”
NHTSA’s anti-drugged driving campaign puts it well: “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different.” You should never drive if alcohol or drugs make you feel any different than normal.
Driving while high on marijuana is certainly illegal in Tennessee. In fact, we have what’s called a “per se” drugged driving law, where you can be convicted of DUI if you have a detectible level of an illicit substance or its metabolites in your system impairing your ability to drive.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that you’re not necessarily impaired by marijuana simply because you have a detectible level of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, in your system. THC remains in the body for several weeks even though the “high” lasts only a couple of hours.
That means that you could get caught up in Tennessee’s per se drugged driving law even if you didn’t actually drive high.
April 20 (“4/20”) is considered a holiday by many cannabis devotees, and more people use the substance on that day. If you drive after using marijuana, though, you could be arrested for DUI.
What about legal medical CBD?
Limited use of medical CBD is legal in Tennessee. CBD is a cannabis extract that can be processed so that it contains minimal amounts of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
You may be legal to drive on medical CBD as long as (1) you have a condition that Tennessee law allows CBD treatment for, (2) you have obtained the substance legally after a doctor’s recommendation, and (3) the CBD you are using contains less than 0.9% THC. If you have been arrested despite legally using CBD, you should talk to an attorney right away.
What if I used marijuana while on vacation in a state where it’s legal?
It’s theoretically possible to get arrested — and even convicted — for DUI for driving up to a month after using marijuana. That said, you may have a strong defense if you only used marijuana while in a state where it is legal for recreational purposes. There’s a chance your attorney might be able to demonstrate reasonable doubt in your DUI case if you only partook of the substance legally but still had traces of the substance in your body when you were pulled over.
A drugged driving charge is nothing to fool around with. If you were arrested surrounding 4/20 or for driving under the influence of marijuana, it’s crucial to contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer right away.