28th September 2020
Medical marijuana may be legal in North Dakota, but driving while high is not.
In recent years, marijuana has been recognized and valued for its medicinal properties. It’s used to manage pain, seizures, anxiety, and a variety of other ailments. Since it’s now legal for medicinal purposes in 33 states, it’s hard to believe the plant was once widely demonized as just a harmful drug. Marijuana may have shaken off its bad reputation, but it does have side effects that can make it unsafe to use in some circumstances. And that includes driving.
Medical vs. Recreational Use in North Dakota
To use medical marijuana in North Dakota, you have to be evaluated by a qualified physician. If your physician determines that you have a medical condition that qualifies you to use marijuana, you can get a written recommendation. Then you must register with the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Registry and subsequently apply for a medical marijuana card. Applicants must be at least 19 years old. Once approved, patients can obtain marijuana from dispensaries. As with any other prescription, they’re required to follow specific dosages and should not share prescriptions with anyone.
If you’re in a state that allows recreational use, you don’t have to prove that you need marijuana to treat a medical condition. Many recreational consumers use it to relax or simply to have fun. Even though North Dakota legalized medical marijuana in 2016, the state still prohibits the recreational use of it. Possession of just one ounce could land you 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. Any more than that is considered a felony. If you’re caught with over 500 grams of it, you could face up to 10 years behind bars and $20,000 in fines.
Can You be Charged With DUI if You Have a Medical Card?
Like many other prescribed drugs, marijuana impairs coordination, response time, and judgment. That’s why in North Dakota, regardless of whether you’ve legally used marijuana, it’s against the law to drive if you’re unable to safely operate a vehicle. This may seem unfair to medical card holders. However, it’s similar to how any other legal drug consumption is normally handled. For example, you wouldn’t drive yourself home immediately after a surgery that required sedation because you’d be putting yourself and others at risk.
How is Intoxication Proved?
Blood and urine tests are the most reliable ways to prove a suspected person has been using marijuana. However, you do not have to consent to a blood or urine test without a search warrant that has been signed by a judge. However, by driving in North Dakota, you’re giving your implied consent. By refusing a test, you can lose your license for anywhere from 180 days to three years. These tests are done after arrest, well after officers have a reason to suspect use.
Officers are trained to look for telltale signs that drivers have been using marijuana. For instance, smokers often have red eyes. Officers are also familiar with the smell. Marijuana users who don’t smoke aren’t necessarily off the hook. Though they won’t have bloodshot eyes, they can be asked to do a field sobriety test such as walking a straight line or doing a one leg stand test.
Penalties for Marijuana DUI
The penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana are the same as driving under the influence of alcohol. Violators face arrest, hefty fines, and possible jail time. First offenders lose their licenses for up to 180 days and face fines up to $750. Understandably, the penalties increase as the offense count does. If you’re facing a second offense within a seven year period, you could spend 10 days in jail and $1,500 in fines. Additionally, your license will be suspended for one to two years.
A third offense within a seven year span will cost you $2,000 and 120 days of your life. You’ll also spend almost a year on probation and lose your license for up to three years. Offenders in this category must enroll in North Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Program.
Those who reach four offenses in a 15-year span spend over a year in jail and two years on probation. The 24/7 Sobriety Program is also a requirement. Regardless of whether it’s your first or fourth offense, you’ll be required to undergo an addiction evaluation.
Why You Should Hire a DUI Defense Attorney
A DUI does not have to ruin your record and reputation. As a driver and North Dakota resident, you do have rights when you’re stopped. For instance, to pull you over outside of a legal checkpoint, an officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are violating a law. If you’re facing charges, it is in your best interest to have an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side.
Your attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your DUI to determine if any of your rights were violated and identify any other factors that will improve the outcome of your case. The attorneys of Sand Law have successfully represented countless drivers who have found themselves in this predicament. We will thoroughly review the specifics of your DUI and discuss your options with you in detail. For a free consultation, contact us online or by phone at 701-609-1510.