Readers may have heard that December is National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, which aims at raising greater public awareness of both drunk driving and drugged driving. The latter, as readers know, is a growing concern in states where legislators have established medical marijuana programs and where marijuana has been decriminalized to one extent or another. Maryland, of course, is one of these states, having decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
In Maryland, of course, marijuana use for recreational purposes is not legal, even if possession of small amounts of it is decriminalized. Still, it is important for those facing drugged driving charges to be aware of their rights in connection with those charges.
According to Maryland’s Transportation Code, a driver may have a defense against charges of drugged driving if he or she is legally entitled to use marijuana, or was unaware of the impact the drug would have on driving. Whether or not an exception applies in any given case, though, is not always immediately clear.
As with drunk driving, those who are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs may be ordered to provide a blood sample for testing, but such testing can only be done by certified Drug Recognition Experts and those in training for this certification. That being said, there is an exception for accidents where the driver caused death or life threatening injury to another. Refusal to submit to a valid test can result in punishment for a driver.
Drugged driving, like drunk driving, can result in serious penalties, and it is important to work with an experienced attorney to build a solid defense. This is particularly important in order to ensure that officers have conducted their investigation properly and that charges are firmly established on the evidence. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help to ensure that the defendant’s rights are protected when prosecutors present a questionable case.
Source: Fort Hood Sentinel, “December is National Drunk, Drugged Driving Prevention Month,” Brig. Gen. Scott Spellmon, Dec. 4, 2014.
NHTSA, “A State-by-State Analysis of Laws Dealing With Driving Under the Influence of Drugs,” Dec. 2009.