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Driving High. What Happens if I Get a Marijuana DUI?

Moreland Law Firm Oct. 17, 2023

When it comes to the topic of driving under the influence (DUI), many people immediately think of alcohol. Yet, as marijuana becomes more widely accepted and legally accessible across the United States, the issue of driving high is gaining unprecedented attention. But what exactly happens if you get a marijuana DUI in Tennessee? 

Get your questions answered by our DUI lawyer at Moreland Law Firm. We proudly serve clients in and near Nashville, Tennessee. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.  

Tennessee Marijuana Laws

Marijuana laws in Tennessee are among the strictest in the United States. Currently, the use, possession, sale, and cultivation of marijuana, whether for recreational or medical purposes, is largely illegal in Tennessee. Even the smallest possession is a misdemeanor crime, with larger amounts and repeat offenses leading to felony charges. 

This extends to driving under the influence of marijuana. So, if you're caught driving high, you're not just breaking one law—you're breaking multiple. 

Marijuana DUIs in Tennessee

Driving under the influence of marijuana is treated very seriously in Tennessee. In fact, Tennessee law enforcement officers, including specially trained Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), are constantly on the lookout for signs of drug-impaired driving.  

The legal limits for THC in the bloodstream are still being debated, but any detectable amount can potentially result in a DUI charge. This is further reinforced by Tennessee's implied consent laws, which require drivers to submit to tests for determining alcohol or drug content in their blood. While you have the right to refuse a test, your refusal may result in license revocation. 

Possible Penalties

It's important to be fully aware of what's at stake when facing a marijuana DUI conviction in Tennessee. The penalties can be severe and escalate with each subsequent offense within a 10-year period. 

  • For a first offense, you could face a fine ranging from $350 to $1,500, along with a one-year suspension of your driver's license.  

  • If this is your second offense within a decade, the stakes rise considerably. The fine increases to $600-$3,500, coupled with potential imprisonment for a minimum of 45 days to nearly a year. Your driver's license could be suspended for two years, and the court may even require your participation in a drug treatment program. 

  • A third offense within 10 years escalates the penalties further. Fines can range from $1,100 to $10,000, with imprisonment stretching from 120 days up to almost a year. Your driver's license suspension can last anywhere from three to ten years. 

  • If you find yourself facing a fourth or subsequent offense within a decade, the situation becomes even graver. You're now dealing with a Class E felony, carrying fines from $3,000 to $15,000, a jail term of at least 150 consecutive days, and a driver's license suspension duration determined by the court. 

These penalties are not just numbers on a webpage—they represent significant impacts on your life, your freedom, and your future. But remember, these are the consequences of a conviction, not a charge. An experienced DUI attorney can help you build your best defense.  

Possible Defenses

Every case is unique and there are several possible legal defenses. Here are some examples of some of the most popular DUI defense strategies: 

  • Challenging the Validity of Sobriety Tests: Field sobriety tests are not infallible. They are subject to human error, both on the part of the officer conducting the test and the individual being tested. Factors such as stress, fatigue, or even certain medical conditions can affect the results of these tests. Furthermore, law enforcement must adhere to specific procedures when conducting these tests. Any deviation from these procedures could potentially invalidate the results. 

  • Questioning the Legality of the Stop and Search: Law enforcement officers must have probable cause to stop your vehicle. If they cannot provide a valid reason for the initial traffic stop, any evidence gathered during the subsequent search may be considered inadmissible in court. 

  • Presenting Alternative Explanations for Observed Impairment: Symptoms of marijuana impairment, such as red eyes or slow reaction times, can also be caused by a myriad of other factors, such as allergies, fatigue, or even emotional stress. A skilled defense attorney can present these alternative explanations to challenge the prosecution's claims of impairment. 

Tennessee law is clear: driving under the influence of marijuana is a serious offense. But it's equally clear that you have rights, which deserve to be defended with tenacity. At Moreland Law Firm, we're committed to doing just that.  

Remember, you're not just hiring a lawyer—you're engaging an advocate who's ready to fight for your rights, your reputation, and your future. Your life is worth fighting for. Put our fighter in your corner.  

Let Us Fight for You

Being charged with a DUI can feel like your world is crashing down. But remember, a charge is not a conviction. At Moreland Law Firm, we believe in your right to a fair fight. Our Nashville criminal defense attorney is ready to stand by your side and advocate for your future.  

Reach out to us today and let us help you turn this around. Driving high doesn't have to mean the end of the road for you. From our office in Franklin, Tennessee, we serve clients across Nashville, Murfreesboro, Lebanon, Columbia, and Dickson.