In 2021, the state of Connecticut legalized the recreational use of marijuana. As a result, marijuana use has increased in the state. But just because marijuana use is now legal in Connecticut does not mean that you can safely consume marijuana and then operate a motor vehicle. It is still against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana, just as, once you reach a certain level, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. Both are now legal substances, but Connecticut DUI is still a crime.
Because of the new marijuana laws, the police needed to change how they attempt to detect drivers operating vehicles under the influence of this drug. Here, I will outline what to expect if you are pulled over by the police and they suspect that you are driving under the influence of marijuana.
What to Expect if Stopped For Marijuana DUI
If the police pull you over and suspect that you are driving under the influence of marijuana, the procedure is similar to that of a suspected alcohol DUI stop. The police will ask you to perform the alcohol standardized field sobriety tests because they believe that marijuana can also impair a person’s ability to follow directions. This kind of issue could be scored on field sobriety tests.
If arrested for marijuana DUI, a person must comply with an evaluation by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). Now that marijuana is legal in Connecticut, the state will rely on (DREs) when police suspect that someone is driving under the influence of the drug. DREs have been trained to determine what kind of drug a person is under the influence of. At this time, there are 54 DREs in the state who perform evaluations of drivers after DUI arrests. However, now that marijuana is legal, Connecticut plans to train more people to act as DREs and assist with traffic stops.DRE evaluations can also now result in driver’s license suspensions.
While the smell of marijuana is not cause to stop or search a vehicle under the new marijuana laws, the police will use other detection metrics, such as checking a driver’s pulse rate, blood pressure, and pupil size in order to determine if they could be impaired by marijuana.
The new laws also require that police are now trained in Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) to improve their ability to make marijuana DUI arrests.
Protecting Yourself From a Marijuana DUI
Now that marijuana is legal in Connecticut, we are entering a new stage of motor vehicle violation stops and DUI arrests. The police and the public alike will have to navigate these new laws and new training requirements. Just make the sure that if you are pulled over, you are not taken advantage of by the police. If you do not understand the new laws, you should contact a lawyer to make sure your rights are not violated. Remember that the police can no longer search your car just because they smell marijuana. You also do not have to say anything that might incriminate you or agree to take field sobriety tests.
As I have mentioned, it is in your best interest to contact a Connecticut drug DUI attorney as soon as you can. Even though marijuana was only recently legalized, my office has worked with many marijuana and drug DUI cases in the past. We know what the police can and cannot do, and we can fight to have illegally obtained evidence thrown out of your case. My staff can provide other forms of evidence that may explain behavior that the police interpreted as being under the influence of marijuana. For more information, contact my office.