Washington's DUI statute prohibits driving under the influence of “intoxicating liquor, marijuana or any drug.” (And note: It makes no difference and is not a defense to a Marijuana DUI that it is now legal to possess and consume/smoke marijuana in Washington State.) See: RCW 46.61.502, which states in pertinent part as follows (with red, underlined emphasis added for this topic):
Driving under the influence.
(1) A person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state: (a) And the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or (b) The person has, within two hours after driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or (c) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug; or (d) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana, and any drug.
Drivers can and should try to avoid being arrested for a Marijuana-DUI
Law enforcement officers are trained to rely upon observations of the driver suspected of a DUI. To have probable cause to arrest you for a DUI they rely on observations of red, watery or “glassy” eyes; slow sluggish movements (e.g., when obtaining license/registration/insurance), slurred speech, and most notably the unique odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle.
Simple precautions, such as using Visine eye-drops or the like before driving, having your license where you can easily locate it if a police officer asks without fumbling around searching, having current, non-expired proof of liability automobile insurance, and having easy access to your vehicle registration can help you. Ideally you want to present yourself in such a way that the officer will conclude he/she has no probable cause to arrest and book you for a Washington State Marijuana/Pot DUI.
Due to the rather pungent and obvious, let's face it, strong odor of marijuana; it is not advisable to have marijuana in your vehicle. Police officers are trained to smell it (duh) and the sniffer canines they often utilize can detect it through any amount of wrapping and containers you may devise. However, for medical marijuana patients who must carry their marijuana with them, do at least keep it in a tightly zipped plastic bag – that might fool the officer's nose, but not Barney the sniffer police dog if you get stopped. Also, keep that sealed container in the trunk of your car – not anywhere in the passenger or glove compartment or the console – and preferably in a locking container, such as a locking briefcase, etc. Obviously, do not give the cops an excuse for not having to try to obtain a search warrant if they suspect you have pot or other drugs on you – do not ever consent to a search of your vehicle, trunk or locking container. They are not allowed to legally conduct a warrantless search of any containers that are locked.
Washington's DUI statute prohibits driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or “any drug”. While an alcohol related DUI is the most common type of DUI charge, people are arrested and charged every day across our State with driving while being under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and even prescription and non-prescription medications. These include, routinely, cough syrup and cold medicine preparations, sometimes combined with liquor of some sort. It is not, and never has been, a defense to a DUI of any type, that you were just taking prescription med's from your doctor or on his prescription, or were merely taking legal to use over-the-counter drugs.
Although the same DUI criminal statute, RCW 46.61.502, applies to marijuana, other drug, non-prescription ‘drugs' and alcohol, there are notable and significant differences. These include different investigative procedures, such as the use of canine dogs and/or DRE's (specially trained police called Drug Recognition Experts). Such differences also affect how the prosecutors must prove this other type of DUI. Additionally, the DOL consequences may and usually are different, for your driver's license or privilege to drive in this state.
**This blog will not and cannot get overly into all the scientific and technical aspects, but is intended to provide you with a basic understanding and overview.