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By Daniel T. Geherin

On November 6, 2018, Michigan voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1, legalizing the use and possession of marijuana for people aged 21 and over. This new law has left many people wondering about DUI and how, if at all, it might be affected.

As a specialized DUI Attorney in Ann Arbor, I have been asked hundreds of questions about the effect of this law on DUI cases, such as the following:

  • “Can the state still prosecute people for driving with marijuana in their system?”
  • “What are the ‘cut-off’ levels for driving with THC in a person’s system?”
  • “If I’m arrested for DUI/Marijuana in Ann Arbor, which attorney should I call?”

DUI/OWI Prosecution Before Passage of Proposition 1:

Before Proposition 1, a person could be arrested and charged with DUI/OWI for simply having the active ingredient or marijuana, THC, in their system while driving. That’s because Marijuana is listed as a “Schedule 1 Controlled Substance” by the Federal Government. This could be prosecuted at any level of THC, without a cut-off or minimum threshold.

THC often remains in a person’s system for a long half-life. Shockingly, people were often arrested, charged and convicted of DUI/OWI despite using marijuana days before their arrest. In some high-profile cases, people were even sent to State Prison for injuring or killing another person while they operated with THC in their system, despite no evidence of recent consumption, and no evidence of impairment. This was, simply put, a “Strict Liability” offense.

DUI/OWI Prosecution After Passage of Proposition 1:

After Proposition 1, it appears that the days of “Strict Liability” Marijuana driving offenses may be ending. While the legislature has been slow to respond, by all measures and indications, it is likely now that a person will only be prosecuted for DUI/OWI if the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that the THC rendered him Intoxicated/Under the Influence/Visibly Impaired. This would require the state to convince a judge or jury that the THC affected the driver. To do so, they will increasingly rely on the testimony of specially-trained police officers known as Drug Recognition Experts - or “DRE’s” - who might conduct a roadside evaluation of a driver and render opinions about the effect (if any) of THC on their ability to drive.

Three Reasons why having an experienced and aggressive attorney who specializes in alcohol and marijuana DUI defense is crucial:

  1. They must be able to thoroughly and intelligently cross-examine the DRE and raise doubt about the opinion of impairment or intoxication.
  2. They must have a reliable network of toxicology and recognition experts to rely on to rebut the state’s case.
  3. They must be able to persuade jurors why a person should not be convicted of a DUI where other factors might have contributed to the alleged impairment. 

The Geherin Law Group PLLC is a local criminal justice firm based in Ann Arbor that specializes in defense of all DUI/OWI cases. For over 25+ years, Attorney Daniel T. Geherin has been fighting for clients charged in Ann Arbor with DUI from both alcohol and drugs. Dan is a former prosecutor and board-certified attorney who has helped thousands of clients with DUI cases in and around Ann Arbor. Approximately 50% of his client base consists of drunk driving defense.

In September 2018, Dan was a featured speaker for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) on the topic of OWI/Marijuana. Along with a local DRE officer, he educated defense lawyers and prosecutors on Proposition 1 and its effects on DUI Cases should it pass. That same month, he published a book, The Michigan DUI and License Handbook, which includes chapters on marijuana laws and their effect on a person’s drivers license. In short, Dan continues to separate himself as a specialized leader in DUI Defense in Ann Arbor for both alcohol and marijuana cases.

If you’re looking for a specialized DUI Attorney in Ann Arbor, please consider calling the Ann Arbor criminal defense attorneys at GLGMichigan. We can be reached 24/7 at (734) 263-2780, or via email.  If you’ve been arrested and charged for a DUI due to alcohol or marijuana, we offer free telephone and office consultations. We’ll happily discuss why we believe we’re the perfect firm to answer your questions and help put your life back together following a DUI arrest in Ann Arbor.