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Can You Get a DUI for Medical Marijuana in Texas?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

Can You Get a DUI for Medical Marijuana in Texas?

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Like every other state, Texas has strict DUI laws that prohibit drivers from using certain substances before or while driving. Penalties for driving under the influence can range from paying steep civil fines to being arrested and put in jail.

The state’s DUI laws also define whether or not marijuana can be used in Texas. Whether you are a resident or visitor to the state, you can avoid being charged with driving under the influence and facing legal troubles by learning under what circumstances marijuana may be used for medical purposes.

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The Legality of Marijuana and Marijuana Products in Texas

Texas outlaws the use of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes. In fact, residents of and visitors to Texas who are caught with even the smallest amount of this substance will be arrested and punished for marijuana possession.

The state’s prohibition of this substance specifically pertains to marijuana that contains THC, the chemical that causes a psychoactive reaction. It does not extend to CBD or cannabinoid oil, which can be used for medical reasons in Texas.

In fact, under the state’s most recent version of the Compassionate Use Act, Texans have the right to use CBD oil to treat epilepsy and muscle spasticity as well as terminal cancer, any form of neurodegenerative disease, autism, Lou Gehrig’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Texans and visitors to the state may also legally use CBD oil to treat conditions like:

  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation
  • Chronic pain
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures

While it is legal to use CBD to treat approved health conditions like these, it is not legal in Texas or any other state to drive under the influence of marijuana or any other psychoactive substance.

DUI and Marijuana Use

People in Texas who are found to be under the influence of marijuana while driving will be charged with and punished for driving under the influence. In this state, DUI does not only apply to people who drive under the influence of alcohol and have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher. It also applies to people who use over-the-counter, prescription medications or illegal drugs like marijuana before or while driving.

Law enforcement in Texas has the right to stop and question drivers who show signs of marijuana intoxication. Some of the indicators of driving while using marijuana include:

  • Overcompensating
  • Speeding
  • Driving too slowly
  • Losing control of the vehicle
  • Weaving in and out of lanes of traffic
  • Losing reaction time
  • Failure to pay attention
  • Impaired cognitive function

It does not take a significant amount of marijuana to cause these reactions while driving. Impaired driving can occur after ingesting between two to five ng/ml of this substance.

Texas Penalties for Marijuana Possession and DUI

If you are found to be in possession or under the influence of marijuana in Texas, you could face a wide array of penalties under the state’s laws. These laws extend both to state residents as well as visitors to Texas. They are applied to first-time and repeat marijuana and DUI offenders.

If you are found to be in possession of marijuana, you could face steep civil fines as well as a possible jail or prison sentence. People arrested with two ounces of marijuana are charged with a Class B misdemeanor. They also face paying a fine of up to $2000 and serving up to 180 days in jail.

Two to four ounces of marijuana will garner you a Class A misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $8000. You also could face up to one year in jail. Four to five ounces of marijuana gets you a state jail felony charge, a fine of up to $10,000, and a jail sentence of up to two years.

Being in possession of greater amounts of marijuana ranging from five to 2000 pounds or more could lead to felony charges and fines of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of 10 to 99 years. If you are found to be in possession of THC oil, you likewise could face a state jail felony charge, a fine of up to $10,000, and up to two years in jail.

On top of these criminal charges, you likewise could face DUI charges if you are found guilty of driving under the influence of marijuana. First-time DUI offenders in Texas can receive a fine of up to $2000 and up to 180 days in jail. Second-time offenders can receive a fine of up to $4000 and up to one year in jail.

You will only be charged with a second-time DUI if your first one occurred within the last five years. Otherwise, you will be charged with a first-time DUI.

People who are third-time DUI offenders face up to $10,000 in fines and two to four years in prison. As with a second-time offense, you will be charged with a third-time DUI if the previous one occurred in the last five years. If not, you will be charged as a first-time offender.

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Why Hire a Lawyer

If you have been arrested for and charged with marijuana possession or DUI, you need to hire a skilled attorney to represent you immediately. You want to hire a lawyer who is well-versed in the state and county laws where you have been arrested. Your attorney can find programs like pretrial intervention or deferred adjudication that are available to dismiss the charges against you if possible.

If you cannot get the charges against you dropped, you might have your lawyer petition the court to lower them. Your attorney can help you obtain the minimum amount of punishment possible and avoid serving time in prison.

Texas does not permit people to use marijuana for recreational uses. Only a select few may use CBD oil for medical purposes. By avoiding using this substance prior to or while you are driving, you can likewise escape the legal troubles that come with possessing or operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana.

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