On April 19, 2017, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act (SB 386), legalizing medicinal cannabis in the state. Since July 2019, qualifying patients whose doctors have issued them a prescription for medicinal cannabis can register with the health department to use medical marijuana.
The state will start accepting permit applications for dispensaries, growers, processors, and laboratories starting December 19, which means medical marijuana won’t be available for sale until sometime in 2020. However, many people are curious about the driving laws regarding medical marijuana use.
Patients are not allowed to operate a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance. If a patient has more than three nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood serum, he/she could be charged with a DUI in West Virginia. Just like prescription medication, just because you legally obtained a prescription doesn’t mean you can drive while under the influence since such medication has intoxicating effects.
Although state law enforcement departments do not have the proper technology to determine the amount of THC in a person’s system at the time of arrest, they often call a drug recognition expert (DRE) officer to investigate suspected drugged driving.
A DRE officer is specifically trained to recognize symptoms of drug intoxication such as reddened eyes, dilated pupils, eyelid tremors, body tremors, and elevated pulse. The officer may also ask the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests to gather further evidence of impairment. Upon arrest, the driver may be asked to take a blood or urine test to check for evidence of drug use.
A marijuana-related DUI is punishable by the same penalties as an alcohol-related DUI. A first-time conviction may result in a jail term of up to six months, fines of up to $500, and driver’s license suspension for up to six months.
If you have been charged with a drug-related DUI in West Virginia, contact the Wagner Law Firm today at (304) 461-6000 and schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.