Drugged Driving Still a Crime After Marijuana Decriminalized in Delaware
Many states in the US have decriminalized the use of marijuana in recent years; in 2015, Delaware enacted legislation making the possession and personal use of up to an ounce of pot a $100 civil fine. Under the previous law, an offender could face a huge fine and maximum six months in jail. However, the decriminalization of marijuana does not change the laws regarding Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs. Any substance that can impair a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle is a danger to others, regardless of legality. If you are arrested for drugged driving, here is some key information you need to know about fighting the charges.
Definition of Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)
Delaware’s drugged driving statute provides that no driver may operate a vehicle:
- While under the influence of any drug; OR,
- When there is any trace of a controlled substance in his or her blood within four hours of driving.
Unlike state laws that overlook low percentages of alcohol in the blood for a DUI, Delaware law has a zero tolerance approach to drugged driving. An officer may make an arrest for DUID if there is a reasonable suspicion that a driver has even a trace amount of a drug in his or her system. Also, note that implied consent laws apply, so you may face consequences for refusal.
Potential Criminal Penalties
DUID is punished in the same way as drunk driving, so a conviction may lead to:
- A maximum incarceration of six months, along with a fine ranging from $500 to $1,500, for a first offense;
- A fine of $750 to $2,500, plus a mandatory minimum two months and maximum 18 months in jail for a second offense; and,
- Up to two years’ incarceration, and a fine ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 for a third time offense.
The penalties increase significantly for fourth and subsequent offenses, so you could be looking at felony charges, including a mandatory minimum imprisonment of 10 years and a minimum fine of $10,000.
Your Driver’s License
There are also implications for your driving privileges if convicted on DUID charges. Again, the consequences are more severe for additional convictions:
- First Offense: 12 to 24 month license suspension;
- Second Offense: 24 to 30 month license suspension; and,
- Third Offense: 24 to 36 month license suspension.
Contact an Experienced Attorney About Drugged Driving Defense
The most effective strategy for fighting drugged driving charges is to retain a criminal defense lawyer to represent your interests as soon as possible. You face considerable penalties for a conviction, but there may be additional charges related to drug possession in certain amounts. Still, you are entitled to your day in court, where you can contest the allegations and present evidence in your defense. If you would like to hear more about your options on Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs, please contact the office of Michael W. Modica in Wilmington, DE. We can schedule a free, no-obligations consultation to review the details of your case.