Oregon refers to DUIs as DUIIs, or “driving under the influence of intoxicants.” Intoxicants covers all manner of substances, not just alcohol. It also includes controlled substances like prescription medications. It also includes marijuana.
This post will explain how the marijuana legalization happening July 1 will affect DUIIs in Oregon.
Measure 91: Legalizing Marijuana
In 2014, Oregon voters passed Measure 91 to legalize personal marijuana use. Medical marijuana is already legal, but Measure 91 legalizes it for those without a medical need for it. You don’t even have to be an Oregon resident as long as you’re in Oregon.
However, there are some restrictions. You must be 21 or older, and you cannot smoke marijuana in public.
Finally, marijuana isn’t legal until July 1. The Oregonian explains, “Until [July 1, 2015], possession of 1 to 4 ounces is considered a misdemeanor and possessing more is a felony. Possession of less than an ounce remains a non-criminal violation through July 1.”
How Much Marijuana Can I Have?
You can only have 1 ounce of marijuana or less in your possession in public, and less than 8 ounces at home (in leaf or bud form). You must have less than 72 ounces of marijuana-infused liquids and less than one pound of edibles, such as cookies or candy containing marijuana.
Adds The Daily Chronic, “Adults are allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis extracts, but only if they are procured from a licensed cannabis retailer.” Extracts are used in marijuana vaporizers, or vape pens.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
On July 1, 2015, Measure 91 will officially begin. That means if you’re pulled over and have a legal amount of marijuana in your car, you won’t have to worry about possession charges.
However, it will still be illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana -- any marijuana at all.
In Colorado and Washington, where marijuana is legal, the states have decided that you can get a DUI if you have five or more nanograms of THC in your bloodstream. It works a little differently in Oregon, though.
In Oregon, just as you can be convicted of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants with less than .08 blood-alcohol content, you can just as easily be convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana with less than five nanograms of THC. In all cases, what matters is whether you are impaired by the intoxicant “to a noticeable degree,” regardless of what substance is involved.
How do police test if you’re high? Mainly field sobriety tests. There’s no breathalyzer for marijuana. It has to be tested with a blood or urine test, neither of which can easily happen on the side of the road. Blood tests cost several hundred dollars, usually requiring the arresting officer to get a search warrant to take the sample. You should also know that neither blood nor urine tests can pinpoint when your marijuana use occurred.
This will be a contentious issue going forward. Let me explain why. While both marijuana and alcohol are metabolized differently by different people, the dissipation rate for marijuana is completely different and, unlike alcohol, the THC from one use may stay in your bloodstream for days, even weeks.
Therefore, it’s best not to smoke and drive at all. That’s because in Oregon, a DUII is a Class A misdemeanor (§ 813.010). If you’re convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least a year, and you’ll have to have an ignition interlock device on your car for about nine months after your driver’s license suspension is over. If it’s your second or third conviction, the penalties are much tougher.
On the other hand, if you’ve never gotten a DUII before, you might be eligible for Oregon’s DUII Diversion Program, which can keep a DUII conviction off your record. Either way, I can help you and the first consultation is always free.
Call 503-227-3800 now!