OUI/DUI Marijuana is a difficult charge for the police and prosecutors to prove in court, but you still need a good lawyer. Here’s why.
If you were pulled over by police and the interior of your car smells like marijuana chances are you were charged with Operating Under the Influence of Marijuana (OUI Marijuana). New changes in the law now makes it very difficult for police and the prosecution to prove OUI Marijuana cases in court. Hiring an attorney that stays up-to-date on the latest developments and that has experience handling these types of cases is very important in getting the best possible outcome. If you’ve been charged with any type of OUI/DUI offense, contact our law office today to schedule a free consultation.
OUI/DUI Marijuana is a difficult charge for the police and prosecutors to prove in court. First off, when it comes to OUI cases, practically all the police training over the last few decades has been focused on OUI alcohol and not OUI drugs. This has resulted in law enforcement developing a chemical breath test and comprehensive set of field sobriety tests that the scientific community has deemed valid for determining a person’s level of impairment by alcohol. All police training has been focused on making sure every police officer is competent in administering these alcohol-related field sobriety tests.
“Under a unanimous ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts police officers can no longer cite their subjective on-scene observations or sobriety tests to conclude in court testimony that a driver was under the influence of marijuana. In limiting the use of the familiar roadside tests designed to provide an approximate measure of drunkenness — walking in a straight line, standing on one foot, and so on — the court found there is no scientific consensus those tests definitively prove someone is intoxicated by marijuana.” Boston Globe
The Courts Distinguish Between Proving Alcohol Impairment and Being “Stoned” on Marijuana
A 2017 court decision determined that there is no scientific agreement on whether these field sobriety tests are capable of determining marijuana intoxication. As a result, the court determined that field sobriety tests are not scientific test for impairment by marijuana, there is no correlation between performance on field sobriety tests and marijuana impairment and as a result prosecutors cannot admit field sobriety evidence as evidence of marijuana impairment.
The 2017 court ruling also determined that a lay person, or non-expert, cannot testify whether or not someone was under the influence of marijuana because the scientific community has no consensus as to the characteristics or signs of marijuana intoxication. As a result, a police officer, without special training, is considered a lay person, or non-expert, and are now prevented from testifying that someone was under the influence of marijuana.
Usually only one, or just a few police officers in each department are a qualified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) which qualifies an officer to testify that someone was under the influence of marijuana. DREs undergo extensive training which qualifies them to perform a set of tests in a standardized method which is supposed to allow a police officer to determine if a vehicle operator’s impairment is related to drug use. That is not the case in OUI alcohol cases as you do not need to be an expert to give opinion testimony regarding someone’s level of impairment from alcohol. This is because it does not take an expert — even an average person is capable of determining if somebody is drunk on alcohol or not.
While this court case prevents police from giving an opinion on impairment by marijuana and using the field sobriety test as evidence of marijuana intoxication, it does not prevent an officer from testifying about the observations he made of the defendant and how the defendant did on the field sobriety tests.
Important New Jury Instructions for Determining Marijuana Intoxication/Impairment
One of the most important parts of the recent court decision deals with the new instructions the court will need to give a jury on an OUI Marijuana case. The court must instruct jurors that field sobriety tests are not scientific evidence for determining marijuana intoxication/impairment and that any person could have difficulty performing these tests even if they are not under the influence of marijuana.
Are charges placed against you for Marijuana? Call today for experienced legal help.
No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away. Call our Massachusetts OUI attorney to schedule your free, no-obligation case review and consultation at (508) 584-6955 and you will have taken your first step to find out how best to confront this important matter. You can also use our Free Case Evaluation Form.