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Medical Marijuana, Prescription Drugs,
and DUI in Missouri
This year our state has begun going through the massive process of implementing the recently passed legalization of medical marijuana. Although I have not seen much of an uptick yet, the legalization of medical marijuana means there is likely to be a huge increase in DUI Drug charges in Missouri. It is important to know your rights and the potential consequences of Driving Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana and other prescription drugs.
The Difference Between DWI and DUI in Missouri
Typically, if you are under arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, you will be charged in Missouri for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and will be given the choice of either blowing (wherein a breath result above .08% can result in the suspension of your driving privileges like we’ve explained here), or refusing to blow (in which case you face a one-year revocation of your driving privileges live we’ve explained here).
If an officer suspects, however, that you’re under the influence of some other intoxicating substance, you will usually be charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUI-Drugs). The officer may suspect that you are under the influence of a number of substances and can request that you take up to 2 different chemical tests (of blood, breath, and/or urine). If you refuse any of these tests, the results are the same as if you refuse to blow for a DWI—a one-year revocation. However, if you submit to the tests, the results will still be used against you in your criminal case, but there will be no concurrent license case, because there is currently no statutory scheme that specifically requires an immediate administrative suspension of your license for testing positive for drugs in your system while driving.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t lose your license if you submit to the tests the officer asks you to submit to and you test positive for drugs. For one thing, if you still have alcohol in your system that is detected and it is over .08%, you will still get the administrative alcohol suspension even if your criminal charge is called a DUI. For another thing, a guilty plea or finding of guilt on the DUI will result in at least 8 points on your license (unless you not a CDL holder and are sentenced to an SIS) which will result in at least a 30 day suspension. A good DUI attorney can help you avoid a license suspension in these circumstances.
A Valid Prescription/Medical Marijuana Card Won’t Save You From DUI Charges
Just because you are legally allowed to use (or even medically required to use) medical marijuana or other prescription medications that can alter your mental faculties doesn’t mean you can legally drive when you’re under the influence of those substances. You can and will get a DUI for driving high if the officer suspects that you are under the influence. You are expected to know that you should not be driving while on these medications.
What You Should Do If You’re Pulled Over Upon Suspicion of DUI
If you are pulled over and the officer starts asking you about what you’ve had to drink or whether you’re under the influence of other substances, the best course of action is to politely inform the officer that you would prefer not to answer any such questions without first speaking to your attorney, and ask if you are allowed to call one. Continue to insist on asserting your right not to answer those types of questions, and contact a good DWI/DUI attorney as early as the officer will allow.