What Is The Current Law In Michigan As It Relates To Marijuana Levels In Your System And Operating A Motor Vehicle?

In Michigan, we have what’s called Operating Under the Influence of Drugs (OUID), which involves the same penalties as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) but has different definitions for what has influenced your driving capabilities. Because marijuana is now legal in Michigan for both recreational and medical purposes, you’re allowed to operate with the presence of marijuana. Before marijuana became legal, they could charge you for having any amount in your system. Now, you can drive with marijuana in your system, as long as you’re not under the influence, meaning it can’t materially or substantially affect the way that you drive, which is the legal definition of operating under the influence in Michigan.

For alcohol, a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher means you can be presumed under the influence, but Michigan doesn’t have a standard yet for marijuana or THC, the component that produces the psychedelic effects of marijuana. There’s no objective standard for marijuana or for prescription medication, meaning each case is determined by the police and the prosecutor. A person who doesn’t regularly smoke marijuana might be considered under the influence with two nanograms in their system, while a heavy smoker could be driving fine with 50 nanograms. It’s completely subjective.

Do Most Police Officers Have Additional Training For Marijuana-Related Driving Under The Influence Charges?

Most officers are not trained to do drug-related testing for people who are driving, only alcohol testing. There’s a new movement in Michigan to have what are called Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), police officers specifically trained in recognizing what kind and what level of drugs are in your system without taking a blood or a urine test. Legalized marijuana is still new in Michigan, so they’re trying to implement new standards. Over the next couple of years, there will be more officers trained to recognize drugs.

What Is The General Protocol That Is Followed To Determine Whether A Driver Is Under The Influence Of Marijuana Or Other Drugs In Michigan?

The police have both objective and subjective testing in order to determine if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs when operating a vehicle. The objective tests include field sobriety tests, like touching your finger to your nose or shining a light in your eye to see whether your eye flutters, which is called a Nystagmus test. The police officer might ask you to say the ABCs or count backwards from a specific number to see whether you can remember what rules the officer set for you. There’s also the preliminary breath test at the scene to see if you blow 0.08 or more to give them probable cause to believe that you’re under the influence. The last objective test is the blood, urine, or breath test back at the station or at the hospital to determine the actual content in your system.

The subjective tests involve listening to your speech to see if it’s slurred while you’re talking or observing if your breath smells of alcohol as the officer approaches you. The officer will see if you admit to drinking prior to being pulled over.

Does The Chemical Testing For Marijuana In An OWI Show The Level Of Someone’s Impairment?

For alcohol, Michigan’s standard for a presumption that you’re under the influence is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, the point at which your driving ability is considered to be substantially and materially affected.

In Michigan, there is no objective standard for a level of drugs in your system to presume that you’re under the influence. We don’t say, “If there’s more than two nanograms present, you’re under the influence.” Whether or not you’re deemed impaired depends on the person prosecuting the case.

Will My Driver’s License Be Suspended For A Marijuana-Related Conviction While Driving A Motor Vehicle?

Interestingly, if you were convicted of possession of marijuana when it was still illegal in Michigan, even if it had nothing to do with driving, your license was suspended. This is still the case for possession of drugs other than marijuana. If you’re convicted for having heroin, for example, on your person, they’ll suspend your driver’s license.

Because it is now legal to possess and smoke marijuana, you won’t have your license suspended if you’re found in possession of it. However, if you’re convicted of Operating Under the Influence of Drugs, including marijuana, then there’s the same license sanction as with Impaired Driving or OWI.

An Overview Of Drug-Related Charges In Michigan

Possession or Delivery of Drugs; Michigan has some of the strictest laws in the nation when it comes to drugs, though marijuana is now a controlled substance that can be used and possessed here. What do you do if you’re charged with the possession or distribution of a controlled substance here in Michigan?

I’m Scott Weinberg, a former prosecutor, and for over 20 years, I’ve represented hundreds of people who’ve been charged with drug-related crimes. Listen closely because I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to do to protect yourself and break down important issues regarding drug crimes.

If you’re charged with the possession or distribution of an illegal drug in Michigan, that charge falls under the Controlled Substance Act, which regulates the penalty depending on the classification, or schedule, of the drug. Possession of a drug like marijuana carries a completely different penalty from possession of cocaine or a prescription medication. Did you know that there are laws against carrying your own prescription medication (like Vicodin) on your person or without the proper prescription bottle? Make sure you know the specific rules and regulations regarding your charges or discuss them thoroughly with your attorney.

If this is your first time being charged with a drug crime, you might be eligible to take the case under advisement or under MCL 333.7411, commonly known as 7411, which means you won’t get convicted of the charge. This keeps it off your record and prevents you from having to disclose it to a future employer. Not all cases are eligible, so it’s wise to use an attorney who’s handled hundreds of these cases because they know exactly what to do. Talk to your attorney about the possibilities of keeping your record clean and protecting your freedom.

Remember that, here in Michigan, any drug-related conviction can suspend your driver’s license, even if you weren’t driving a car at the time of the arrest. That’s right. Even if your case had nothing to do with driving whatsoever, your license can be taken away.

Don’t just plead guilty at the start of your case, and don’t plead guilty at the arraignment. That conviction will go on your record, and you may never be able to get it off. Always set your case up for a pre-trial or an exam where your attorney can get all the important information at the start and then build a strategy to protect your rights. Remember, just because you’re charged with a drug crime doesn’t mean you’re going to lose everything. Don’t lose your rights that are protected under the Constitution in the state of Michigan. Protect yourself and your family’s future. Take care.

For more information on OUID Charges in the State of Michigan, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (800) 710-0529 today. 

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